Today, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling in Biden v. Nebraska, striking down the Biden administration’s plan to provide relief to student loan borrowers under the HEROES Act. The Court dismissed the other student debt case, Department of Education v. Brown, due to the plaintiffs’ lack of standing. The Biden administration’s plan, announced in August 2022, would have canceled $10,000 in student debt for American borrowers earning $125,000 or less per year, forgiving an additional $10,000 in debt for Pell Grant recipients. Six states and two individuals sued to block implementation of the plan. After the Supreme Court agreed to take up both cases, a coalition of 21 organizations, including the Legal Defense Fund (LDF), filed an amicus brief encouraging the Court to uphold the lawfulness of the plan.
In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling, LDF President and Director-Counsel Janai S. Nelson issued the following statement:
“We are deeply disappointed that the Court has ruled against the Biden administration’s student debt relief plan — blocking sorely needed relief for millions of Americans, particularly Black and Latinx families, who disproportionately face economic insecurity due to the lasting harms of the COVID-19 pandemic. Student debt is a financial burden that impacts people throughout their lives, and the load is disproportionately borne by Black borrowers. The economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic pushed borrowers, especially borrowers of color, into an even more precarious position. People lost jobs and became caregivers overnight; families could not afford or find childcare; and many struggled to afford basic living expenses like rent. Student loan payments were an additional burden they could not bear.
“Rather than providing an estimated 40 million borrowers with a measure of relief, the Court chose to add to the exacerbated financial suffering borrowers have experienced due to the pandemic. Today’s ruling is a significant setback on the road to racial and economic justice, but it must not deter us from moving forward. This must not be the end of the conversation about student debt relief and building a better higher education system that is more accessible and affordable for all Americans. We urge policymakers to develop holistic solutions to the student debt crisis.”
Founded in 1940, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is the nation’s first civil rights law organization. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Please note that LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights.