Justice Barrett once again denies emergency bid to block student loan forgiveness plan

Justice Amy Coney Barrett on Friday denied an emergency effort to block the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness program, her second such ruling in recent weeks.

Barrett, who handles emergency matters arising from several Midwestern states, acted alone in denying the request, rather than referring it to the full court.

The brief, one-line order comes after the libertarian group Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) urged the court to block the president’s nationwide debt cancellation plan.

PLF was the first group to challenge President Biden’s loan forgiveness program in court, filing on behalf of one of its own attorneys in September. The group argued that Biden’s debt plan would cause irreparable harm to fellow PLF attorney Frank Garrison by automatically forgiving his debt and forcing him to pay state taxes on the forgiven amount.

After the Education Department added a note on its website notifying individuals that they could opt-out of debt relief, a federal judge denied PLF’s challenge but allowed the group to amend its complaint. 

PLF amended its complaint, adding a second plaintiff — Noel Johnson — and making it a class-action lawsuit. However, the district judge dismissed the case, ruling that Garrison and Johnson lacked standing.

The group appealed and asked the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to block Biden’s loan forgiveness program but was again denied for a lack of standing. PLF then turned to the Supreme Court to block the program.

Barrett denied a similar emergency request from a group of Wisconsin taxpayers in late October, which also sought to block Biden’s debt plan from going into effect while it appealed. 

The Wisconsin group’s lawsuit, which argued that the White House does not have the authority to enact such a policy, was also dismissed by a lower court for a lack of standing.

Another lawsuit filed by attorneys general from six GOP-led states was also initially dismissed for lack of standing. However, a federal appeals court agreed to temporarily block the Biden plan amid its appeal.

The Biden administration’s debt relief plan would forgive up to $10,000 in student loans for borrowers earning less than $125,000 and up to $20,000 for those that received Pell grants.

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