Constitutional Cruelty: Democrats now Oppose a Democratic Process on Student Loans

Below is my column in the Hill on the curious position of Democratic members of Congress opposing the use of the democratic process to address the college loan forgiveness plan. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez bizarrely condemned the Supreme Court for usurping congressional authority by supporting congressional authority in the student loan case. She renewed her calls for retaliation through subpoenas, court packing, and even impeachment. She previously said that she did not understand why we needed a Supreme Court. Like Sen. Chuck Schumer, she was outraged that the Court would require a president to go to Congress before giving away roughly half a trillion dollars in loan forgiveness.

Here is the column:

“Disappointing and cruel.” Those words from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) after the Supreme Court’s rejection of the Biden administration’s loan forgiveness program may say more than the opinion itself.

The court’s “cruelty” was in supporting Congress’s core constitutional power of the purse. Schumer’s disappointment in having to address and vote on the forgiveness of hundreds of billions of dollars in loans speaks volumes about the collapse of our constitutional values.

The court’s decision on the merits of the case was hardly a surprise. President Biden was using the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (HEROES) Act of 2003 to order the largest loan forgiveness program in U.S. history. The law is only a few pages long and was intended to assist military personnel deployed abroad in combat zones.

The idea of using that law in order to avoid getting congressional approval for such a massive expenditure was laughable. The Office of Legal Counsel considered the theory and issued a memo stating that it would be unconstitutional.

In his response to the court, Biden declared that “the hypocrisy is stunning” and that the court had “misinterpreted the Constitution.” However, during the last presidential campaign, Biden himself acknowledged that this effort would be unconstitutional.

Chief Justice John Roberts even cited former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in the opinion for stating the obvious: “People think that the president of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness. He does not. He can postpone. He can delay. But he does not have that power. That has to be an act of Congress.”

Biden, however, knew that there was no way Congress would approve the loan forgiveness. Many citizens objected that they decided to learn a trade rather than go to college, and no one is suggesting that they should be forgiven their debts. Others paid their student loans back and felt like they were the victims of a bait-and-switch.

While many of us could not see any plausible way that this law could be used for such a clearly unintended purpose, University of California law professor Dalié Jiménez filed an amicus brief declaring that the HEROES Act “is as clear as sunlight” as a basis for forgiving federal student debt for nearly everyone.

The justices failed to see the light. Instead, a 6-3 majority again declared that Biden was violating the Constitution and had to go to Congress.

The same court that had just ruled overwhelmingly to support Biden’s immigration policies turned around and issued a devastating and detailed opinion as to why no such authority existed in this case.

Biden was undeterred after that ruling and promised, “I will stop at nothing to find other ways to deliver [the] relief.” Perhaps, but the Constitution has once again stopped him from becoming a government unto himself.

That brings us back to Schumer. James Madison designed a constitutional system with a frank understanding of the factional and petty impulses of politicians. Yet he believed that he had created a system of checks and balances that could rely on the institutional self-interest of members to jealously protect their powers under Article I. Madison believed that, despite party or ideological affiliations, “ambition must be made to counteract ambition.”

In all of his study of the ancient Greek and Roman states and contemporary politics, Madison never encountered the likes of Schumer and his colleagues. Their ambition runs elsewhere, and they view the support of their authority to be an act of constitutional “cruelty.” They are calling on a president to turn them into institutional nonentities  legislators who engage in a type of empty performance art as the president governs alone.

It is a curious position for those who have campaigned on protecting “democracy.” These same figures are now calling on a president to avoid presenting this major program to Congress because they know that the majority would oppose it.

Ever accommodating, Biden is now saying that he will attempt to accomplish the same loan forgiveness by taking a “new path.” That path, of course, is not to the co-equal branch just down the street from where his lives. It is rather through a different statute, the Higher Education Act of 1965. The HEA, however, could be used only for a far more limited number of debt holders, and even this would raise new legal questions. The HEA was rejected previously because the HEROES Act was still viewed as a better avenue for the administration.

In comparison to just going to Congress down the street, the “new path” is like going from D.C. to New York by way of Los Angeles.

All of this is meant to avoid the one option left to the president  going to Congress. After all, the last thing you want in the defense of democracy is to have an outbreak of democratic process.

What is left, to paraphrase Schumer, is a cruel joke. But the ultimate joke is on the American people. Half of their representatives in Congress are struggling to make themselves (and those they represent) entirely irrelevant at this key moment. That is a constitutional debt that should not be forgiven.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.

208 thoughts on “Constitutional Cruelty: Democrats now Oppose a Democratic Process on Student Loans”

  1. “I keep basically the same philosophy for 30 years even though the politics changes, so my audience sometimes changes. I’ve lost a fair number of what I would call the super woke, and it’s good. Don’t let the door hit you in the a–. You were no fun to begin with. You have a terrible sense of humor,”
    – Bill Maher

    1. He is not alone among Independents & Democrats.

      It is eye opening to see the Left today use the same bullying, disparaging tactics that Hillary and Bill Clinton used in the 1990s of anyone who mentioned Bill’s sexual assault of women. I recall how the FemiNazis all defended Bill. Now in 2022, same scorched Earth tactics, different targets. Im not fond of Ron DeSantis but to see the MSM scorch DeSantis and Florida Republicans who control the State Legislature, is reminiscent of their attacks on Reagan, GHW Bush, W Bush, Trump and now even Left-leaning journalists like Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald, Bari Weiss, et al


      Only 26% of Americans have a favorable opinion of the news media, the lowest level Gallup and Knight have recorded in the past five years, while 53% hold an unfavorable view. Across all political affiliations, more Americans say they hold an unfavorable opinion of the news media compared to a survey conducted in late 2019-early 2020. This rise is especially pronounced among independents but is also apparent among Democrats — who typically hold more favorable views of the media.

    1. I see the AA poll is split strictly along racist lines.
      Polls confirm it’s all grifting all the time usually of the multicult variety the demoncrats claim is our strength as it rips the foundations of the USA apart, and politics shouldn’t be dancing to racist polls.

  2. The Democrats have always governed by the principle that the ends justify the means. Other than that, they have no principles at all, and never did. And when the Media is totally on your side, you can change narratives on a dime to suit the moment, so none of it matters.

    1. America has principles: The Constitution and Bill of Rights.

      Democrats are not Americans.

      Communists (liberals, progressives, socialists, democrats, RINOs, AINOs) are the direct and mortal enemies of the American thesis (Freedom and Self-Reliance), the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, Americans and America.

      Allhysteria O’Crazio Corkheads and Ayaelvis Pressley suggest the termination of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Supreme Court as we know them.

      “The courts, if they were to proceed without any check on their power, without any balance on their power, then we will start to see an undemocratic and, frankly, dangerous authoritarian expansion of power in the Supreme Court.”

      – Allhysteria O’crazio Corkheads

      “[The Supreme Court] continue[s] to overturn the will of the majority of the people and to make history for all the wrong reasons, legislating from the bench and being political from the bench.”

      – Ayaelvis Pressley

      Justices of the Supreme Court swear an oath to support the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

      The Supreme Court, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are and must be fungible.

  3. I got into Harvard because of affirmative action
    – Joy Reid

    She is on MSNBC for the same reason

    1. REPARATIONS must be paid to those who suffered the consequences of unconstitutional affirmative action.

      Congress and the undeserving, inferior beneficiaries of affirmative action must recompense their hapless, long-suffering victims for damages resulting from their illicit, unconstitutional acts.

  4. Anyone who wants a student loan forgiven must return the degree for cancellation. Fair is fair.

    1. Ah… there we go, that’s the good common sense America I used to know.
      It was “worthless anyway”, because they “couldn’t get their chosen career to pay for it.”

      On another note, at the very least the government should get X work hours out of them. The demoncrats have been babbling at me for so long that the great communist master FDR saved America with his work programs…
      So to start, we’ll have all the little lib_ _ _ _ _ _ college pampered loan forgiveness leeches get their hands dirty and calloused REBUILDING AMERICA’S STATUES THEY DESECRATED.
      Other mental and physical punishment ( exercise without their yoga pants up their unknowns on fatty mats in AC) ideas are welcome.
      Since they are “for the environment” they can do the chain gang roadside trash pick up – they can start in their DEMO GHETTO POOR OPPRESSED ETHNIC QUARTERS in the poorest and most dangerous parts of the cities so they can practice “solidarity” instead of lying from a safe space.

  5. This SC majority ignored the word “wave” in the statue when they essentially said Biden couldn’t wave repayment. But the law said he could. They ignored the plain language int he bill.

    And in the Colorado web designer case. They ruled for the plaintiff in a case where the plaintiff committed perjury when she lied about a person asking to design a web page for her.

    Go ahead, defend this court. But in these two cases they did a great disservice to the rule of law. Will the Colorado women be charged with perjury? What will the court do now that they know this case was bogus?

    1. Yup. The HEROS act was passed through a democratic process. It is the Republicans who are ignoring that.

      1. The Hero’s Act is too removed from Biden’s order to be of any help constitutionally. You have a reputation of grabbing at straws and falling down.

      2. Congress has the power to tax for ONLY Debt, Defense and general (all, the whole) Welfare.

        Most governmental departments are unconstitutional.

        The HEROES Act is unconstitutional; it may be a DOD cost and expenditure.

        The singular American failure has been and remains the judicial branch, with emphasis on the Supreme Court.

        “This is not a democracy. Everybody doesn’t get to do what they want to do. Everybody doesn’t get to do what they feel like doing.”

        – Nick Saban

        America is a restricted-vote republic: Ben Franklin, “We gave you a republic, if you can keep it.”

        States establish voting criteria.



        re·​pub·​lic ri-ˈpə-blik

        1 b (1) : a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law

    2. Baby Trump – The prologue to the statute states the purpose of the law:
      “An Act To provide the Secretary of Education with specific waiver authority to respond to a war or other military operation or national emergency.”
      Section 1(b) of the Act sets out the Congressional findings, which are the the substantive justification for the law. Each finding references military personnel. 117 STAT. 904 PUBLIC LAW 108–76—AUG. 18, 2003 Public Law 108–76 08th Congress. https://www.congress. gov/108/plaws/publ76/PLAW-108publ76.pdf
      So, it is obvious that this law was not intended to apply to any group other than military personnel.
      Even if you get around that problem, the Act has another limitation. It applies only to “war” or “military operation” or “national emergency”. COVID was a difficult time, but not different in kind from previous pandemics. The post WWI “Spanish flu” was much worse. Almost all of our problems in dealing with COVID resulted from bad advice and actions by the federal and state governments. If government incompetence constitues “an emergency”, then we are in permanent state of emergency.

    3. Even when a statue is waving, your demoncrat bros and sistas rip it down and destroy it. Stop ignoring that and we can talk.

  6. The Federal Reserve reports that the median student debt for all borrowers in 2022 was between $20,000 and $24,999 / 1.2 trillion divided by.
    52 million loans ?

    “The federal student loan portfolio currently totals more than $1.6 trillion, owed by about 43 million borrowers ”

    OK, numbers don’t match but that google and the tards today, they are close.

  7. In 2010, Obama struck down the federal guaranteed loan program, and replaced it with the Department of Education, then federal direct student loan debt climbed by more than $100 billion yearly.
    Obama expanded eligibility for his “pay as you earn” program, which limits loan payments to 10% of income, with any debt left after 20 years forgiven. In five years delinquent loans skyrocketed to 27.3%.

    Thanks no thanks mullatotard.
    Is it communism or fascism socialism or destructive favoritism, in any case it’s the bloated demoncrats stealing future wealth to pump up their packed university administrations and skyrocket college costs “backed by the feds” admissions.

  8. As VP, Biden made a phone call to the president of U Penn to get Hunter’s daughter Maisy in because she couldn’t get in on her own merits.
    That U Penn president then got nominated for ambassador to Germany.
    Hunter got accepted as a transfer law school student from G’town to Yale. While on crack. Etc.
    See how it works when you’re a Biden?

    The ask: Can you get my granddaughter in?
    The answer: Affirmative, Mr. Vice President.
    The action: Meet our new Ambassador to Germany

    1. “I need a storage spot for my secret bribes paper to the commie chinese. ”
      “Biden Penn Centrer is ready, sir.”
      “What?! I’m not going to the pen ! Nobody F’s with a Biden !”

    2. If you think Demos are the only ones gaining access to elite universities due to “phone calls”. Wow. Just a guess here but I am going out on a limb to say that there are more Repo kids that have lower scores that have been admitted to universities due to mommy or daddy donating money than Demos. Just a guess.

      Favoritism is alive and well and there is no party distinction. It is just money.

      1. Of course. We are simply highlighting the grotesque hypocrisy of a scumbag person named Joe Biden.

    1. Right.
      At the moment, the unrest, assaults, riots, arson, looting are all great advertisements for the need of the 2ndA.
      And why MSM is trying to ignore what is going on or bury it way in the back or at the bottom of their web pages.

  9. If you must insert some politics into a court decision, at least have the decency to make it a concurring opinion in a 9-0 vote. Something like: As Judges, we are not here to expound on the merits of a policy that assists student citizens in the achievement of educational goals. Merely to note that this instance requires the involvement of both the legislative and executive branches.”

    The “judicial” dissent in this court case was an embarrassment.

  10. I’m considering renouncing my US citizenship. Many high profile celebrities suggested going to Venezuela.

    Not me. Hell no. I’m going on vacation to Europe. Specifically Paris, France. Screw the 4th of July Fire Works.

    I booked a hotel that provides free breakfast, 5 liters of petrel, and unlimited supply of empty beer bottles. There is a GPS App that shows where the French Police cars are.

    1. Plenty of 4th of July fireworks there now, the place is burning down. Your petrol will be stolen for more fires in the streets and looting, the police app won’t matter, you’ll need a protein shake and small light tight running shoes.

      1. Shakdi,

        Thanks for the advice. I got a pair of Jordan Air Sneakers at a store in Paris, France.
        But the label inside said “Made in China.” Instead of asking for a refund, I simply used a beer bottle filled with petrol & sent it to costumer service.

  11. Democrats need to face the truth – their party is no longer the “democratic” party, it is now a Marxist organization that tries to rule by fiat. Keep electing them and don’t be surprised when you start seeing gulags in the desert.

    1. Team Blue already knows they’re strictly Marxist now. They believe changing the meanings of established words will fool their political opponents when in reality, they’re only fooling themselves.

      1. Team Blue already knows they’re strictly Marxist now.

        JAFO, I doubt they care what their actions identify them as now. They are purely driven by their lust for power. To be fair, Team Red also has a lust for power. The problem for the Democrats in this battle for power is they chose to go all in on the wrong side of the constitution. Both parties had always danced around the edges of the constitution to win political battles. However, when GWB set the table for Democrats to seize the constitutional side of this power struggle, they instead myopically chose a young, charismatic “Black” man to lead them to power. I seriously doubt they knew at the time he was a radical Marxist. Once he planted that flag in the White House, Democrats had no choice but to follow his lead. The die was cast. And the Separation of Powers took on a whole new meaning. On one side was the Marxist ideology of their “Democratic” leader. This naturally gave the Republican party the constitutional side. The main problem for the Democratic party is they were moving to the left faster than the vast majority of the electorate. This tactical error gave an opening for Trump. That was yuge. And not only did that give “constitutionalists” the opportunity they needed to build a stronger wall with the judiciary, Trump’s policy decisions forced the Democratic party to completely abandon whatever remained of their connection to constitutional order. They will be finished as a political party for a generation if they lose in 2024.

        1. “To be fair, Team Red also has a lust for power.” That’s certainly true, Olly. Sadly, it’s “the point of it all”, as Charles Krauthammer said on more than one occasion. Not only is it the point, it’s by design by BOTH Partys. BOTH put Party first, their individual power, second, and some where there *might* be very distant ‘country’ in their priority list. It comes with being a politician, I guess.

          What really bugs me though is the sheer volume of otherwise intelligent people who WANT government to be this way – a government that lies to their face (“this won’t hurt a bit”) while they’re being proverbially penetrated at the other end of their digestive track by that same government AT THE SAME TIME. In all candor, how can they not ever see themselves eventually reaping what they sow?

          While I really hope I’m wrong, I foresee The Party That Van Buren Built going ALL-IN, in every conceivable way, to ensure “they” (cough-cough) win in 2024. After all, no court ever wanted to ‘see’ how they did it in 2020 so who’s going to stop them from doing the very same things in four or five or more select counties again?

          1. In all candor, how can they not ever see themselves eventually reaping what they sow?

            JAFO, the answer to that question is not a matter of intelligence, but rather one of psychology. Yuri Bezmenov described the process in an interview back in 1984 when he detailed how the KGB used active measures to infect an unsuspecting culture with the Marxist ideology. More recently, Mattias Desmet wrote a book titled The Psychology of Totalitarianism, in which he describes the concept of mass formation.. Bezmenov describes these people as demoralized, and Desmet describes them as hypnotized. In both cases, they are no longer purposely connected to reality. And in both cases, there is a point of no return, where even those not so afflicted will have to reap what they sow.

            1. Olly, While Bezmenov and Desmet are right on the money in identifying the psychology of mass formation, I still have to wonder why those who suffer from it have no desire to change themselves for the better. It must be an exhaustively time-consuming way to exist. Do they even have an end-game to seek, or is their perpetual unhappiness the reward itself?

              1. I still have to wonder why those who suffer from it have no desire to change themselves for the better.

                JAFO, first of all the demoralized or hypnotized have no idea they are suffering anything beyond what they’ve been led to believe. They are effectively clay on the potter’s wheel at this point. I believe Bezmenov’s use of the term demoralized inaccurately conveys a sense of consciousness of the their lot in life. Desmet’s use of the term hypnosis is a more appropriate reflection of their perceived reality. It’s not exhausting unless they are told it is. They aren’t unhappy unless they are told they are unhappy. They have no end-game because they have no self-awareness they are part of a game. These are the Leftists we encounter on this blog. It’s why no amount evidence has changed their minds. Pick any topic to prove this true. Riots are mostly peaceful protests. Abortion is healthcare. Censorship is free speech. If you think about it, what they do is anything but exhausting. It really takes no effort to write what they write. All it takes is a keyboard and a vocabulary. Then just start writing fiction. If you ever find yourself agreeing with them, hit the eject button before it’s too late. 😵

  12. “Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez bizarrely condemned . . .”

    Whenever she speaks, you can hear the P.S.: The public? C’est moi.

  13. Dem leaders like Pelosi are not stupid, they know full well their proclamations will be shot down in the future. If an election is over and they’ve ‘won’, who cares? More opportunity to dismantle the rules as they go. They are despicable, and meanwhile real, workable solutions are held at bay, gotta keep the crisis going if they are to retain their saviorhood (read: superiority).

    And heaven help us if an ignorant pet rock like AOC is ever given any type of real authority, though I personally think she was only hired (not a typo) to attract young voters to the leftist party. Do we really need any more evidence that the Dems are not purveyors of reality or truth after the Hollywood produced J6 hearings? Unfortunately the consequences are becoming all too real. Silent weapons for a quiet war. 😐😐

    1. James,
      Reality. Truth. Facts. Objectivity.
      All things an anathema to our leftist friends.

  14. Pelosi said it was un-Constitutional.
    Biden even said it was un-Constitutional.
    Then the SC rules it un-Constitutional, with Roberts quoting Pelois, they all lose their minds.
    Did they ever take a civics class?
    Apparently not as seen by our leftists friends comments and lack of facts and logic.

    1. Will our constitutional republic survive the age of political idiocy? I fear not with each passing meltdown on the left when they don’t get their way because of that pesky thing known as the US Constitution.

    2. Upstate: Amen. But I’m forced to conclude that they really can’t be as stupid as their remarks would indicate, and that they actually do understand what powers the Constitution does and doesn’t give them as members of the Legislative branch. But, as Turley suggests, they prefer to sabotage their own legitimate powers in the interest of cheap and easy demagoguery. Their cynicism is bottomless.

  15. The only thing obvious about the “student loan issue” is that Joe Biden just gathered 40 million votes for 2024. The extreme Supreme Court is doing a helluva job driving people to the Democrats.

    1. The extreme Supreme Court is doing a helluva job driving people to the Democrats US Constitution

      It looks like you hit yourself on your cranium and injured your patella, seeing how you limp on this forum time after time.


    2. The SC is to be a apoliltical entity.
      6 of the justices agreed with Pelosi and Biden: Loan forgiveness by the president is un-Constitutional. It has to go through Congress.
      That is their job. To interpret the law.
      Not to say what their decision will have on anything outside the law.
      BTW, read a poll the other day, showing that not only Hispanics and blacks were leaving the Democrat party but younger people too.

      1. Upstate writes: “BTW, read a poll the other day, showing that not only Hispanics and blacks were leaving the Democrat party but younger people too.”

        True, Upstate. Millennials are waking up. A child and a mortgage concentrate the mind beautifully.

    3. Acromion, let me disabuse you of your misconceptions–which are profound. Free college for the privileged (paid by those who are not) won’t buy Joe 40 million votes. Joe used every lie and dirty trick in his playbook (including a massive gubment coverup), and he still lost the House.

      Second, Biden intended this as a fraudulent scheme to swindle Zoomers of their votes. He knew it was a constitutional outrage and said so in the past, but when faced with the prospect of losing Congress, the leopard suddenly changed his spots. Hair plugs are amazing things.

      Finally, let me leave you with an admonition. Today, Joe says he won’t pack the Court, just like he used to say cancelling college debt is unacceptable. The truth is that Senator Manchin wouldn’t let him pack the Court. If Manchin suddenly disappeared, we’d have fifteen Justices sitting on the Supreme Court the next day.

      When it comes to power, Joe Biden is purely transactional. Does anyone doubt that anymore??

      I don’t like living one heartbeat away from tyranny. I pray swing voters will remedy that next year. Any year after will likely be too late.

  16. Should have been 9-0, not just 6-3. Surely those 3 knew, long before oral arguments, it was unconstitutional. If they didn’t, they would have learned during their internal deliberations. And yet they still voted to support further gutting the separation of powers.

    I have no doubt they voted this way to give Democrats an issue they can use to once again bait their ignorant supporters; not unlike Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown.

    1. And right on cue we have Dems like Elizabeth Warren calling the 6 who voted correctly, “the extremists on the court.”

      1. Using the term extremists is relative to Warren’s worldview. So if the majority on the court rule within constitutional principles, it necessarily follows that Warren is herself an extremist outside of constitutional principles.

  17. Professor,

    Chuck the broad brush and pick up one that fits the situation.

    Unless you include yourself among the radical Left which would erase the text of the constitution and burn the parchment it was written upon….something I am quite sure you do not embrace.

    You should call a spade a spade and call out those on the rabid Left….AOC, Schumer, Garland,Biden, Harris, Swalwell, Schiff, and so many others notorious for their extreme left views and antipathy towards democratic processes and the US Constitution and the government it sets forth in clear language.

    I understand now why that precious document is so carefully secured by the National Archives….and in my view does so not only due to foreign enemies but also domestic enemies that would seek to destroy it.

    We have reached a point that there are only two sides….and only one can, should, and must prevail….and that is certainly not the Democrat Party as it has become….overwhelmed by far left radical elements that are intent upon destroying American and turning it into a at best socialist and at worst communist nation where the individual has no freedom as guaranteed by the Constitution.

    Enough talk and words….time for action…real action and take the fight to the enemy….by every legal means possible. Virtual scorched earth kind of warfare…leave them broken, broke, and completely destitute morally, politically, and yes…financially.

    The Republican Party. must start impeachments agains Garland, , Mayorokas, Austin, Yellen, Fauci, Harris, and Biden, and put a hold on all of Biden’s nominees and the military appointments.

    Make quite plain there is a price to be paid for embracing radical policies that violate the Constitution and Supreme Court Decisions.

    The Court has no power to enforce its decisions….either the President does it or Congress can do it.

    1. It’s a great dream but reality is the demoncrats have been doing it to you guys for about a decade now and have not only government bureaucrats and political power attacking successfully, but corporations, banking , loans, social media, and the various patreons and ad sense incomes.

      They’re wiping the floor with you and yours, and the Trump hatred even on your side has really helped. You’re not out from under that issue, and now it really doesn’t matter, since the next one lined up will be treated just as badly.

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