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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Supreme Court agrees to hear second appeal over student debt relief plan

Courts Department of Education Consumer Finance Student Lending Debt Relief U.S. Supreme Court Appellate Fifth Circuit Eighth Circuit DOJ HEROES Act Administrative Procedure Act


On December 12, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a petition for certiorari in a student debt relief challenge currently pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the DOJ filed an application on behalf of the Department of Education (DOE) asking the U.S. Supreme Court to stay a judgment entered by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas concerning whether the agency’s student debt relief plan violated the Administrative Procedure Act’s (APA) notice-and-comment rulemaking procedures. In a brief unsigned order, the Supreme Court deferred the DOE’s application for a stay, pending oral argument. The Supreme Court said it will treat the application as a “petition for a writ of certiorari before judgment,” and announced a briefing schedule will be established to allow the case to be argued in the February 2023 argument session to resolve the legality of the program. Oral arguments are scheduled for February 28, 2023.

The Supreme Court said it will consider whether the respondents (individuals whose loans are ineligible for debt forgiveness under the plan, as covered by InfoBytes here) have Article III standing to bring the challenge. The Supreme Court will also consider whether the DOE’s plan is “statutorily authorized” and “adopted in a procedurally proper manner.”

This is the second case concerning the Biden administration’s student debt relief plan that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear. On December 1, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the Biden administration’s appeal of an injunction entered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which temporarily prohibits the Secretary of Education from discharging any federal loans under the DOE’s student debt relief plan. (Covered by InfoBytes here.)

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