Federal Court Blocks Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Nationwide

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The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a nationwide injunction pending appeal against President Joe Biden’s student loan debt forgiveness program Monday, adding to previous legal action blocking the plan.

The program seeks to forgive $10,000 in federal student loan debt for individuals with incomes under $125,000 and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients, with the Biden administration claiming it had the authority to institute the program under the HEROES Act of 2003 and an emergency situation sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and South Carolina had filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration in late September over the program, and the court issued a stay on the debt cancellation last month before granting an emergency motion for the injunction Monday.

“We conclude that, at this stage of the litigation, an injunction limited to the plaintiff States, or even more broadly to student loans affecting the States, would be impractical and would fail to provide complete relief to the plaintiffs,” the latest court order said.

U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman deemed the student debt forgiveness program unconstitutional Thursday in a case brought by two individuals with student loans. He argued the HEROES Act did not provide “clear congressional authorization” necessary for the administration to conduct the program unilaterally.

One of the sticking points in the case was the question of standing; the court found that the program would likely harm Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA), thus granting Missouri grounds to sue.

“The injunction will remain in effect until further order of this court or the Supreme Court of the United States,” a three-judge panel of the court said.

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