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High court turns down opponents of Biden’s student debt relief

The emergency application brought by student borrowers failed Friday in the same fashion as one brought in October by a conservative law firm.

WASHINGTON (CN) — For the second time in as many months, the Supreme Court on Friday rejected a bid to halt President Joe Biden’s student debt relief plan. 

Justice Amy Coney Barrett shot down the application without a call for additional briefing or referring the case to the full court. Barrett — who handles applications for the Seventh Circuit  — also shot down a similar appeal from a conservative law firm last month. 

Frank Garrison and Noel Johnson brought the emergency application only three days earlier, saying Biden’s program will end up costing them money. Both Garrison and Johnson borrowed money from the government for their education, but the men say their debt is already being forgiven under Congress’ Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. The two Indiana borrowers also say their state’s tax policies will leave them liable to pay taxes on the amount forgiven from their loans as well. 

“As a result, Mr. Garrison, Mr. Johnson, and potentially millions of others similarly situated in the six relevant states will receive no additional benefit from the cancellation — just a one-time additional penalty,” Michael Poon, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation representing the borrowers, wrote in the application.

Biden wants to cancel up to $20,000 in loans for certain borrowers. His plan draws on a 2003 law called the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act that allows the education secretary to skirt rules for aid programs in a national emergency. Citing the Covid-19 pandemic, Biden says he has the authority to wipe away debt from borrowers who have faced financial hardship. 

Challengers to Biden’s program have struggled to establish standing for their suits. Garrison and Johnson’s suit faced similar obstacles, being dismissed by the district court for lacking standing. The Seventh Circuit then declined their appeal for emergency relief. With the high court rejection, the borrowers are left with no options further options to halt Biden’s actions. 

Another case in the Eighth Circuit has fared better. The St. Louis-based appeals court granted a stay last montth to a group of six Republican-led states that filed a suit against Biden’s plan.

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