U.S. Supreme Court’s Barrett Again Declines to Block Biden Student Debt Relief

Justice Amy Coney Barrett denied an emergency application to block the program brought by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative legal group, on behalf of two borrowers in Indiana. On Oct. 20, Barrett rejected a similar request.

Barrett is responsible for such applications issued from cases in the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which includes Indiana.

The decision has little practical effect. For now, student loan forgiveness remains on hold from a challenge brought by six GOP-led states.

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On Tuesday, Indiana student-loan borrowers Frank Garrison and Noel Johnson — represented by the conservative law firm Pacific Legal Foundation — took their legal battle against Biden’s debt relief to the Supreme Court, arguing that the policy is unlawful and would require them to pay more taxes under state law.

But on Friday — just three days later — Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett denied the plaintiffs’ emergency request to halt the debt relief. She did not provide an explanation for the dismissal and it’s unclear whether she referred the case to the rest of the court — similar to actions she took on October 20, when she dismissed a different lawsuit filed by the Brown County Taxpayers Association also seeking to halt the implementation of student-loan forgiveness.

While these dismissals are promising for borrowers waiting to receive up to $20,000 in student-loan forgiveness, they come as the debt relief plan is currently on pause due to a ruling from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, in response to a lawsuit filed by six Republican-led states who argued the debt relief would hurt their states’ tax revenues. While the 8th Circuit has not permanently blocked the plan, the Education Department cannot actually discharge any student loans until the court makes a final decision on the legality of the relief.

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