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Supreme Court takes up second Biden student loan forgiveness case

The challenge, brought by two borrowers, will be heard in February when the high court hears a similar challenge from states.

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a second bid to revive President Joe Biden's student loan forgiveness plan, which will be heard in February alongside a case the justices have already agreed to hear.

In both the cases, lower courts blocked the plan, meaning the Supreme Court will have the final say on whether it ever goes into effect.

The case the court said Monday that it would take up involves two holders of student loan debt, Myra Brown and Alexander Taylor, who claimed the administration had failed to follow the correct procedure in announcing the plan. A federal judge in Texas invalided it nationwide, prompting the administration to turn to the Supreme Court.

Activists call on President Biden to cancel student debt outside the White House on Dec. 15, 2021.
Activists call on President Biden to cancel student debt outside the White House on Dec. 15, 2021. Paul Morigi / Getty Images

In a brief order, the high court said it would weigh both whether Brown and Taylor had standing to bring their lawsuit and, if they did, whether the plan was lawful.

In the other case, the court on Dec. 1 said it would hear an administration appeal involving a challenge brought by six states.

A major obstacle facing those challenging the program is that they have had to show legal standing to sue by illustrating how they are harmed by the program. If the Supreme Court were to conclude the states or individuals have standing and then reach the legal question of whether Biden had the authority to forgive the loans, the administration would most likely face an uphill battle, with the court’s conservative majority skeptical of broad assertions of federal power.

The program, which allows eligible borrowers to cancel up to $20,000 in debt, has been blocked since October. The administration has since closed the application process.

Under a different pandemic-related presidential order, borrowers do not currently have to make payments.

Challengers say the administration’s plan — announced by Biden in August and originally set to take effect in the fall — violates the Constitution and federal law, partly because it circumvents Congress, which they said has the power to create laws related to student loan forgiveness.