“Not Ruled by an All-Powerful Executive”: Federal Judge Declares Biden Loan Forgiveness Unconstitutional

We have previously discussed how the Administration stretched the 2003 Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (HEROES) to the breaking point as the basis for waiving roughly half a trillion dollars in debt owed to the public in college loans. Now, U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman of the Northern District of Texas has issued an opinion declaring that President Joe Biden violated the Constitution in unilaterally forgiving the debt before the midterm election. Judge Pittman wrote “[i]n this country, we are not ruled by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone.” It was former President Barack Obama who defied Congress with unilateral actions and declared that he would go it alone if needed because “I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone.”

President Biden took the same course when it was clear that the loan forgiveness program would not pass Congress. Biden simply announced that he would forgive up to $10,000 in student loan debt for borrowers earning less than $125,000 annually; those who received Pell grants could receive up to $20,000 in relief; couples can qualify despite a joint annual income of $250,000. No vote of Congress — just hundreds of billions of dollars written off by Biden, as if he is an American tsar.

Judge Pittman held that “it is fundamental to the survival of our Republic that the separation of powers as outlined in our Constitution be preserved.”

I previously criticized the legal basis for the loan forgiveness program. The Biden Administration has largely counted on blocking anyone from getting to the merits by challenging the standing of anyone to sue over the giveaway. On the merits, the Biden Administration’s position is transparently opportunistic in my view.

As the acronym indicates, this short bill was designed for military personnel who often found themselves in arrears while serving abroad. It allows the Education Secretary to grant student loan relief during a war, military operation or national emergency. But nothing in the barely five-page act supports a sweeping and unprecedented waiver of billions of dollars in loans owed to the government.

Even for the military personnel intended to benefit from this program, the law only allowed waivers or modifications to guarantee that they were not “placed in a worse position financially in relation to that financial assistance because of their status as affected individuals.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Justice Department will appeal the verdict. They could prevail on the appellate level but could likely face a skeptical Supreme Court. That could again create lasting and damaging precedent.

The Biden administration has racked up an impressive litany of losses in court, including many decisions finding that the administration has engaged in racial discrimination or simply exceeded Biden’s constitutional authority.

92 thoughts on ““Not Ruled by an All-Powerful Executive”: Federal Judge Declares Biden Loan Forgiveness Unconstitutional”

  1. Somewhat OT: The 8th Circuit found that standing was likely in the Missouri case because the loss of loan servicing revenue by MOHELA would affect the accumulation of funds for investment in public education and also concluded that the equities argued in favour of a nationwide injunction because the loan payments had already been deferred anyway until the end of the year so delay did no harm. So it appears that the program is stopped while the 8th Circuit resolves the appeal on the standing issue. Not sure when that will be. Whatever decision it makes will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court.

    So far, the 8th Circuit has said nothing about the constitutional and APA questions except that they are not resolved.

    The standing issue in this case is stronger for the plaintiffs than in the Texas case.

  2. Obamacare, Bidencares, etc. are how trickle-down or redistributive change economics work to force inclusive progressive prices and availability.

  3. (OT)

    Assoc. Press: “Former President Donald Trump is suing the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to block a subpoena requiring him to testify. …“Long-held precedent and practice maintain that separation of powers prohibits Congress from compelling a President to testify before it,” Trump attorney David A. Warrington said in a statement announcing Trump’s intentions. …”

    Mr. Warrington is pretending that Trump is still President. There is no separation of powers issue with a former President testifying. The former President is a private citizen. The suit should be quickly resolved in the Committee’s favor.

    They should also subpoena Mike Pence, since it’s clear that Executive Privilege hasn’t gotten in the way of him writing about Jan. 6 and the lead up.

    1. ” There is no separation of powers issue with a former President testifying. “

      The question is what does that do to executive power in relationship to Congress for future presidents?

    2. Anonymous from the darkside:…lawyers of that stature don’t ‘pretend..’ the only party who’s pretending here is you pretending to be an expert in what is considered the Office of the President protocol. where the Govt. is concerned, there are 3 distinct branches. We refer to former Presidents as President, e.g., President Clinton, President Carter, et al; for a reason, because their association is still there. Asking a President to testify about anything re: the time he was in Office is off-limits, as President Truman made crystal clear.. The separation of powers applies to that.

      1. Ultimately this is political.

        Trump would have been happy to testify publicly – before the election.

        The democrats subpeona of Trump was an effort to influence the election – NOT to get him to testify.

        The lawsuit is an effort to block a lame duck house from engaging in political revenge.

        But your legal analysis is spot on – and self evident from the subpena itself.

        Congress has no power to investigate people.
        It has broad powers to investigate the EXECUTIVE branch of government

        There is no basis for congress to investigate the private acts of Donald Trump or anyone else.

        There is a basis to investigate the executive acts of President Trump.
        But that request is also subject to claims of executive priviledge – that can only be waived by the president at the time.

        The courts are actually free to decide that Trump must testify – but they will not do so before January.

        Trump may end up testifying before a reconstituted J6 committee. But it will not be the current lawless star chamber.

      2. Oct 2022 global Temp anomaly is +0.32C – that is the total deviation from the mean since 1979

        I noted previously that it is near universal that Republicans lose all close statwide elections.
        And that the odds against that happening naturally are astronomical.

        I am not aware of a single warmist climate prediction that has been correct.

        That suffers exactly he same statistical unlikelyhood.

  4. Big if. Hope so. Why in the world is it taking so long to count votes? We put men on the moon and we can’t count ballots efficiently.

    1. Long ago, when as a boy I learning logarithms and how to work a slide rule. Sure they had computers but those guys at NASA could do math. Of course they were RACIST. Math is racist. And shooting a missile at the Moon – the symbol of women! Classic Patriarchal rape. Why is there no shame?

    2. It takes time to know what the shortfall is and then to get enough fake ballots to cover it. Just ask the ghost of LBJ, who first lost in Texas because of that and then won because of that

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