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Justice Barrett rejects group's effort to block Biden's student debt relief program from taking effect

Shortly after Barrett denied the request, a federal judge dismissed a similar lawsuit brought by officials from six Republican-led states, giving Biden two court wins on Thursday.
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Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett on Thursday denied a request by a Wisconsin taxpayers group to halt the implementation of President Joe Biden’s federal student loan forgiveness program.

Barrett, who is responsible for emergency applications from Wisconsin, rejected the Brown County Taxpayers Association request to block the program just days after the Biden administration began accepting applications from borrowers to have as much as $20,000 in student debt canceled.

The emergency application was filed Wednesday.

Barrett appeared to act on her own without referring the matter to the other justices. She did not provide an explanation for rejecting the emergency request, which is not uncommon.

The taxpayers group had argued in a 29-page filing to the Supreme Court that Biden’s program would cost taxpayers more than $1 trillion and that it bypasses Congress, which oversees federal spending.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated last month that Biden’s plan would cost $400 billion, while the Education Department said the price tag would be closer to $379 billion.

Rick Esenberg, a lawyer representing the taxpayers group in the lawsuit who is also president and general counsel of the right-leaning Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, said in a statement Thursday that he hoped other legal challenges to the program would succeed.

“We are well aware of the standing challenges that exist to stopping a clearly unconstitutional order. Our case took one approach to meeting that challenge," Esenberg said. "Others will adopt different arguments and our hope is that one will succeed so that the American people can have the legality of this program reviewed by the courts.”

Late last month, the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative-leaning law firm sued the administration on behalf of one of its employees, Indiana-based lawyer Frank Garrison.

Two days after that lawsuit was filed, officials from six Republican-led states sued to block the program. A federal judge on Thursday dismissed that suit.

Biden's student debt relief program would provide up to $10,000 in debt cancellation for borrowers earning less than $125,000 a year and couples who file taxes jointly and earn less than $250,000 annually. Pell Grant recipients, who comprise the majority of borrowers, would be eligible for an additional $10,000 in debt relief. The overall program is anticipated to help more than 40 million borrowers, the administration said.