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  5. The Supreme Court's conservative chief justice cited Nancy Pelosi in his opinion striking down Biden's student loan forgiveness program

The Supreme Court's conservative chief justice cited Nancy Pelosi in his opinion striking down Biden's student loan forgiveness program

Bryan Metzger,Ayelet Sheffey   

The Supreme Court's conservative chief justice cited Nancy Pelosi in his opinion striking down Biden's student loan forgiveness program
  • The Supreme Court struck down Biden's student loan forgiveness plan in a 6-3 decision on Friday.
  • Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts cited comments by ex-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

In a 6-3 decision authored by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court on Friday struck down President Joe Biden's student debt forgiveness plan.

And in doing so, he cited someone you wouldn't necessarily expect: former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Roberts cited comments she made during a press conference with reporters on July 28, 2021, when she argued that Biden didn't have the power to enact the forgiveness program on his own.

"People think that the President of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness. He does not," she said at the time. "He can postpone. He can delay. But he does not have that power. That has to be an act of Congress."

The former speaker later supported Biden's plan when he announced it in August 2022, calling it a "bold action" and a "strong step in Democrats' fight to expand access to higher education."

Reached for comment, a spokesman for Pelosi did not directly addressing Roberts' citation of her words.

But in a statement later on Friday, Pelosi said that the Court "cruelly denied more than 40 million Americans deeply needed student debt relief" and was allowing "crisis of debt to continue holding back families from buying homes, starting businesses and making ends meet.

She also said that the court had ignored "convincing arguments" on Biden's legal authority.

"President Biden is to be commended for his action to ease the student loan burden, which disproportionately harms women and people of color," said Pelosi. "Energized by our commitment to equity, justice and opportunity, the fight is not over."

The Supreme Court Friday decision came in two separate rulings. The majority ruled that one of the cases, US Department of Education v. Brown, did not have standing to sue the federal government. However, the second case that sought to block Biden's debt relief — Biden v. Nebraska — succeeded in striking down up to $20,000 in relief for borrowers. The case was filed by six GOP-led states that argued the relief would hurt their states' tax revenues, along with the revenue of student-loan company MOHELA.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his opinion that the states had standing to involve MOHELA in the case, and that Biden did not use the proper legal authority to enact this relief.

Importantly, this ruling did not strike down all forms of student-loan forgiveness. It just ruled that Biden cannot cancel student debt using the HEROES Act of 2003, which gives the Education Secretary the ability to waive or modify student-loan balances in connection with a national emergency, like COVID-19. Some Democratic lawmakers have argued Biden can instead use the Higher Education Act of 1965 to cancel student debt, which does not require a national emergency.

It's unclear what the next steps are for relief — but Biden vowed in a Friday statement that "I will stop at nothing to find other ways to deliver relief to hard-working middle-class families. My Administration will continue to work to bring the promise of higher education to every American."




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