The Biden administration on Friday asked the Supreme Court to overturn lower court orders and clear the way for the Department of Education to forgive millions of student loans.
It is questionable whether conservative lower courts can block the program indefinitely.
In August, Biden said the government would forgive up to $20,000 in loans to qualifying borrowers, basing the action on a 2003 law granting relief to those affected by war or a national emergency.
Both the Trump and Biden administrations have called the pandemic a national emergency that warranted a pause in loan repayments.
But Republican prosecutors and conservative advocacy groups insisted the president did not have the authority to forgive $400 billion or more of outstanding loans.
In response to a lawsuit brought by six Republican prosecutors, the 8th Circuit Court in St. Louis issued a statewide order to block Biden’s loan forgiveness plan. A judge in Texas also declared the plan illegal because the president had exceeded his powers.
Instead of waiting months for a final ruling, U.S. Solicitor Gen. Elizabeth Prelogar filed an urgent complaint, asking the Supreme Court to intervene and overturn the lower court’s orders. She said the judges had exceeded their powers by issuing sweeping orders based on a very flimsy allegation of damage.
“The flawed 8th Circuit injunction leaves millions of economically vulnerable borrowers in limbo, uncertain about the amount of their debt and unable to make financial decisions with an accurate understanding of their future repayment obligations,” she told the court.
She said the conservative judges are ignoring the fact that there is no evidence that the state or individuals would be harmed if some students had their loans forgiven.
The judges will likely ask for an answer from the other side and then shortly decide whether to intervene.
Prelogar suggested that if judges are unsure about the law, they could grant a review of the case and decide early next year.
The case is Biden vs. State of Nebraska.