The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down President Joe Biden’s student debt cancellation attempt has elicited a range of celebrations from Biden’s 2024 presidential challengers.
On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6–3 that Biden could not excuse student debt repayments through the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003 (HEROES Act) or any other authority belonging to the executive branch.
In his initial reaction to the decision, Biden said: “I believe that the Court’s decision to strike down our student debt relief plan is wrong. But I will stop at nothing to find other ways to deliver relief to hard-working middle-class families.”
By Friday afternoon, Biden also announced new strategies his administration would take to help student loan borrowers. As one of the strategies, the Department of Education requested a rulemaking process that the administration said is “aimed at opening an alternative path to debt relief for as many borrowers as possible.”
Another Biden administration strategy entails reducing the minimum monthly loan payments for borrowers while implementing a rule that blocks interest from piling onto their debt so long as they may payments.
A third Biden administration strategy entails implementing an “on-ramp” period from Oct. 1, 2023, to Sept. 30, 2024. During this period, borrowers who miss monthly payments will not be considered delinquent.
Following the Supreme Court decision, Biden also accused Republicans of hypocrisy for opposing his student debt cancellation plan while supporting debt forgiveness for business owners who took out loans during COVID-19 pandemic-era closures. The pandemic-era Payment Protection Program (PPP) was one such program through which business owners could take out loans that could later be forgiven. Republicans and conservative commentators have pushed back on such comparisons in the past, arguing that PPP loans were different because businesses lost their means of income as a result of government-imposed lockdowns, whereas student loan borrowers agreed to take on and repay the costs of their education.
Author Marianne Williamson, who is challenging Biden for the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination, criticized the Supreme Court’s decision while largely defending Biden’s student debt cancelation plan.
“They overturned Roe v. Wade. They ended Affirmative Action. Now they’ve rejected Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. Today’s SCOTUS works to proactively diminish the rights and opportunities of the people of the United States,” Williamson posted on Twitter, adding that she believes Biden could get around the court’s decision.
“As President, I will expand the Court if necessary,” Williamson continued. “Nothing in the Constitution says it’s limited to 9 justices. We must also introduce ethics rules for SCOTUS justices, and consider term limits. Our current SCOTUS has gone rogue in service to their corporatist sponsors.”
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a lawyer and author also challenging Biden for the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination, expressed disappointment at the Supreme Court’s decision but argued Biden should have leaned on Congress to pass such a debt forgiveness plan.
“The unfortunate SCOTUS ruling striking down President Biden’s [student loan] forgiveness program was the predictable result of Biden’s failure to bring Congress together on this issue of crucial importance to young Americans. President Biden knew his plan wouldn’t survive a legal challenge. His plan gave the appearance of action, while accomplishing nothing,” Kennedy said in a multi-part Twitter thread. “This is an issue of grave importance to our country. As President, I will galvanize public support to pressure Congress to put down their partisan positions and legislate meaningful relief to the tens of millions of Americans who are drowning in student debt.”
Kennedy also said he would seek ways to lower the cost of higher education.
“When I was their age, a college education cost about one-seventh of what it is today. A young person could work their way through college and graduate debt-free. If we devoted even a fraction of our military budget to higher education, it could be virtually free to all (as it is in many other countries),” Kennedy posted.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) had a campaign-style ad ready to go shortly after the Supreme Court decision.
“Today, SCOTUS made the right decision on student loans. Biden wanted to make waitresses & mechanics pay the student loans of doctors & lawyers who make six figures. If you take out a loan, you pay it back. It’s time for a President who values hard work & the people who do it,” Scott said in a tweet sharing the 30-second ad.
“Joe Biden wants you to pay off the student loans of lawyers and professors. I want to strengthen vocational education and apprenticeships. We need more welders, carpenters, and electricians. These are the jobs that built America, and these are the jobs liberal elites can’t ship to China,” the Republican presidential candidate added in his campaign video.
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley celebrated the Supreme Court decision on Friday and cast Biden’s loan forgiveness plan as unfair to those who had paid off their loans.
“A president cannot just wave his hand and eliminate loans for students he favors, while leaving out all those who worked hard to pay back their loans or made other career choices. The Supreme Court was right to throw out Joe Biden’s power grab,” she said.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is running for the 2024 Republican presidential ticket, also celebrated the Supreme Court’s ruling.
“Joe Biden’s massive trillion-dollar student loan bailout subsidizes the education of elites on the backs of hardworking Americans, and it was an egregious violation of the Constitution for him to attempt to do so unilaterally with the stroke of the executive pen,” Pence said in a Twitter post.
The Congressional Budget Office has said the plan might have cost about $400 billion, but the Wharton School estimated the price tag could have surpassed $1 trillion.
Pence also noted his involvement in the appointment of Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, all three of whom sided with the decision to strike down Biden’s debt cancellation plan.
“I am pleased that the Court struck down the Radical Left’s effort to use the money of taxpayers who played by the rules and repaid their debts in order to cancel the debt of bankers and lawyers in New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. I am honored to have played a role in appointing three of the Justices that ensured today’s welcomed decision, and as President I will continue to appoint judges who will strictly apply the law and enforce our Constitution’s separation of powers.”
Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy was among the 2024 Republican candidates who celebrated the court’s decision on Friday.
“We have a bad habit in America of paying people to do the exact opposite of what we want them to do: more $$ to stay at home than to work, more $$ to be a single mother than married, more $$ for those who *fail* to repay loans than those who do. As a matter of policy, this decision helps reverse that trend,” he said in a Twitter post.
NTD also reached out for comment from former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who are ranked first and second in the Republican presidential field respectively. Neither candidate responded by the time this article was published.