U.S. Supreme Court denies right-wing firm’s attempt to strike down student debt forgiveness

By: - October 20, 2022 4:54 pm
Student Loan application form

Photo by Nick Youngson via Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett denied an application by the right-wing Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) to have the court strike down President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive some student loans.

WILL’s lawsuit, on behalf of the Brown County Taxpayers’ Association (BCTA), argued that because the group pays federal taxes it has the ability, or standing, to challenge the program and that the program is unconstitutional because it would deliver more benefits to Black borrowers. The White House has said the program will narrow the racial wealth gap, which WILL argued is “illegal executive overreach.” 

The program, which had its application go live earlier this week, is set to forgive up to $20,000 in student loans for individuals making less than $125,000 per year and couples making less than $250,000. The program will forgive $10,000 in debt for most people, but Pell Grant recipients will be eligible for the full $20,000. 

Eastern District of Wisconsin Judge William C. Griesbach dismissed the lawsuit, writing in his decision that the BCTA did not have the grounds to bring the lawsuit. 

“The Supreme Court has repeatedly held, however, that the payment of taxes is generally not enough to establish standing to challenge an action taken by the Federal Government,” wrote Griesbach, an appointee of President George W. Bush. 

WILL promised to appeal the decision, with the organization’s deputy counsel Dan Lennington saying the case was “always destined to be decided by higher courts.”

On Wednesday, WILL filed an emergency request with the U.S. Supreme Court asking for the case to skip over the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Wisconsin. Coney Barrett, who decides on emergency requests from Wisconsin, swiftly denied that request. 

The U.S. Department of Education has said borrowers should apply for debt relief by mid-November to receive it by the end of the year.


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Henry Redman
Henry Redman

Henry Redman is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner who focuses on covering Wisconsin's towns and rural areas. He previously covered crime and courts at the Daily Jefferson County Union. A lifelong Midwesterner, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in journalism in May 2019.