A coalition of states, experts, and advocates on Wednesday filed 13 amicus curiae briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of President Joe Biden's student loan cancellation, which was put to a halt after several legal challenges.
Currently, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in February of two cases challenging Biden's student loan cancellation program, which would cancel up to $10,000 of student loan debt for eligible borrowers, and up to $20,000 for eligible borrowers who were Pell Grant recipients.
The coalition, comprised of organizations such as the Student Borrower Protection Center, the National Education Association, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and more, filed the amicus curiae briefs in support of the Department of Justice in Biden v. Nebraska and Biden v. Brown. The Student Borrower Protection Center provided summaries of the 13 briefs, including links to the filings.
One of the 13 briefs was filed by the Student Borrower Protection Center, and has signatures of over 70 legal services and borrower advocacy organizations from across the country. According to the center, the brief focuses on real life stories of borrowers "crushed by the weight of student debt" and "the financial devastation caused by the pandemic." The brief argues that the federal government has previously provided direct financial support to families, small businesses, and large industries and that Biden's cancellation program is legal.
"Today's briefs highlight that cancellation is legal, and it is necessary," said Persis Yu, deputy executive director and managing counsel at the Student Borrower Protection Center at a press event announcing the coalition. "These briefs highlight the stories of working people, of borrowers of color, of veterans, of older Americans. They demonstrate the impact of student debt and the pandemic on our local communities, cities, and states."
Another brief was filed by the Public Rights Project, representing the cities of St. Louis, Missouri, Kansas City, Missouri, Little Rock, Arkansas, and more than three dozen other local governments, including those in respondent states across the country. Their brief argues against the economic injury claims made by opponents of cancellation and "emphasizes the local economic benefits that will result from debt cancellation."
"In Kansas City, nearly 90,000 people have more than $3 billion in student debt — again $3 billion in student debt," said Quinton Lucas, mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, at the press event. "And that's just one, midsize city in middle America. It's a burden that's been made worse by the devastating and prolonged effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on cities across the country. That's why it's critical for President Biden to cancel student debt for the people in Kansas City and across the country."
Other briefs in support were filed by 22 state attorneys general led by Acting Attorney General of Massachusetts Elizabeth Dewar; the NAACP; the National Education Association, ArchCity Defenders and other Missouri consumer advocates; the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and 21 advocacy organizations; 24 law scholars; conservative law scholars Samuel Bray, a professor at Notre Dame Law School and William Baude, a professor at University of Chicago Law School; 25 economists, sociologists, public policy and higher education scholars; former Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), author of the HEROES Act of 2003 and former chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor; and the Minority Veterans Association and five other veterans service organizations.
Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, spoke about her own organization's filing with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). The brief focuses on how Biden's student loan cancellation would help the public sector recover from the economic devastation brought on by the pandemic, especially American teachers and nurses.
"We're trying to get rid of the $1.9 trillion chokehold on our national well-being," Weingarten said at the press event. "But this one in particular, is so egregious that MOHELA and others have stopped the Biden administration from using the HEROES Act, which comes from Congress itself and the Education Department. … It's clear cancellation falls squarely within the statutory authority."
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona responded to the filing of the briefs by saying the broad array of organizations "reflects the strength of our legal positions versus the fundamentally flawed lawsuits aimed at denying millions of working and middle-class borrowers debt relief."
"As these diverse groups made clear today, student loan borrowers from all walks of life suffered profound financial harms during the pandemic and their continued recovery and successful repayment hinges on the Biden Administration's student debt relief plan," Cardona said in a statement. "We will continue to defend our legal authority to provide the debt relief working and middle-class families clearly need and deserve."
Publication Date: 1/12/2023