In a significant blow to President Joe Biden’s agenda, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday that his executive order to cancel over $430 billion in student loan debt was unconstitutional. The 6-3 decision affirmed that federal law does not grant the Secretary of Education the authority to enact such widespread debt forgiveness. As a result, millions of Americans who had hoped for relief from their student loan burdens were left disappointed.
During a press conference following the court’s ruling, President Biden faced tough questioning from Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich. Heinrich pressed the President on why he had given “false hope” to Americans who believed they would benefit from the executive order, especially considering his past doubts about his authority to enact such a measure without congressional approval.
Biden responded with a stern tone, rejecting the notion that he had provided false hope. He defended his decision, stating that he believed the actions he took were appropriate and achievable. The President blamed Republicans for snatching away the hope that had been given to millions of borrowers, asserting that the hope was real and significant.
This legal setback echoes concerns voiced by Biden himself in February 2021 when he expressed doubt about his ability to implement student loan debt forgiveness through executive action. Even the Supreme Court’s majority opinion highlighted the fact that Biden’s plan went beyond the authority granted by the law.
The executive order, known as the HEROES Act, aimed to provide debt relief for individuals earning less than $125,000 annually, with federal grants offering up to $10,000 in relief and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients. Despite accepting around 16 million applications before the program was halted for judicial review, the legality of the action remained in question.
Republicans strongly opposed Biden’s unilateral approach, arguing that he lacked the authority to forgive student loans without congressional approval. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the President’s plan would have cost taxpayers approximately $400 billion, which caused further outrage among Republicans who deemed the proposal unfair to those who had already paid off their loans or never attended college.
President Biden, undeterred by the Supreme Court’s ruling, pledged to continue fighting for student loan debt relief. His administration remains determined to find alternative avenues to address the student debt crisis, likely by working with Congress to pass legislation that provides more targeted relief measures.