A federal judge in Texas on Thursday ruled that President Joe Biden’s plan to cancel hundreds of billions of dollars in student loan debt was unlawful and must be vacated.
In his 26-page ruling, Judge Mark Pittman said it was irrelevant if Biden’s plan was good public policy because the program was “one of the largest exercises of legislative power without congressional authority in the history of the United States.”
Pittman wrote that the HEROES Act – a law that provides loan assistance to military personnel and that was relied upon by the Biden administration to enact the relief plan – did not authorize the $400 billion student loan forgiveness program.
“In this country, we are not ruled by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone,” Pittman wrote. “Instead, we are ruled by a Constitution that provides for three distinct and independent branches of government.”
The debt relief plan had already been temporarily blocked by the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals while it considers a request by six Republican-led states to enjoin it while they appealed the dismissal of their own lawsuit.
The plan, announced in August, calls for forgiving up to $10,000 in student loan debt for borrowers making less than $125,000 per year, or $250,000 for married couples. Borrowers who received Pell Grants to benefit lower-income college students will have up to $20,000 of their debt canceled. About 26 million Americans have applied for student loan forgiveness, and the U.S. Department of Education has already approved requests from 16 million.