Federal judge strikes down Biden’s student-debt relief program

A U.S. Federal Judge in Texas struck down the plan, citing the division of powers clause in the constitution. He said the President overstepped his mandate.


Grace Smith

President Joe Biden speaks during his visit at the POET Bioprocessing ethanol plant in Menlo, Iowa, on Tuesday, April 12, 2022. Biden announced the Environment Protection Agency will make E15 available through the summer months.

Liam Halawith, Politics Reporter

A Federal District Court Judge based in Fort Worth, Texas struck down President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program on Thursday. The plan would give up to $20,000 in debt forgiveness for those eligible under the plan’s guidelines.

The plan was temporarily blocked by the U.S. 8th Circuit Appellate Court last month in a ruling on a separate lawsuit brought by six states, including Iowa, but the lawsuit was dismissed on Oct. 21.

“By forcing them to pay for other people’s loans — regardless of income — President Biden’s mass debt cancellation punishes these Americans and belittles the path they chose. This expensive, unlawful plan is an insult to working people and must be stopped,” Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a September press release explaining the lawsuit.

The student loan forgiveness program would have given $20,000 in forgiveness to those with eligible student loans who qualified for a Pell Grant. Those who didn’t qualify for a Pell Grant during their enrollment in college would receive $10,000 in forgiveness on qualifying loans.

The Biden administration originally included federally-serviced student loans, but after fears of proposed legal challenges, Biden removed Federal Family Education Loans, which were serviced by private banks, from the plan.

The plan would have applied to households that make less than $125,000 individually and $250,000 if filing jointly.

Federal District Court Judge Mark Pittman, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, wrote in his ruling on the plan, it unconstitutionally usurped Congress’ law-making power.

“In this country, we are not ruled by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone. Instead, we are ruled by a Constitution that provides for three distinct and independent branches of government,” Pittman wrote. “The Court is not blind to the current political division in our country. But it is fundamental to the survival of our Republic that the separation of powers as outlined in our Constitution be preserved.”

According to the White House, over 400,000 Iowa borrowers would see some student loan debt forgiven under the program. Of those, nearly 250,000 are Pell Grant recipients.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the administration disagreed with the ruling and is appealing the case to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Jean-Pierre said 26-million-people had already applied for debt relief.

“The President and this Administration are determined to help working and middle-class Americans get back on their feet, while our opponents backed by extreme Republican special interests sued to block millions of Americans from getting much-needed relief,” she said in a statement.

The U.S. Supreme Court has already denied several requests for a Writ of Certiorari — an application for the supreme court to hear the case — on the issue. One instance was a Wisconsin lawsuit brought by a creditors association and a lawsuit brought by six midwestern states including Iowa.