On Tuesday, the Supreme Court’s conservative justices sharply questioned the presidential authority to cancel student loan debt.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh suggested presidential authority over debt “seems problematic,” calling into question the Biden administration’s plan to cancel $10,000 in student loan debt to most college students.

The Biden administration has continually halted the collection of student loan payments throughout the pandemic. As part of a campaign pledge, Biden is attempting to cancel $10,000 in federal student loans for millions of Americans. They also wanted to erase $20,000 for students who received Pell Grants.

But Chief Justice John Roberts sliced through Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar‘s arguments on behalf of the Biden administration. He suggested the administration shouldn’t have such broad authority over federal loans.


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“If you’re talking about this in the abstract, I think most casual observers would say if you’re going to give up that much … money, if you’re going to affect the obligations of that many Americans on a subject that’s of great controversy, they would think that’s something for Congress to act on,” Roberts said.

“Some of the biggest mistakes in the court’s history were deferring to assertions of executive emergency power,” Kavanaugh added. “Some of the finest moments in the court’s history were pushing back against presidential assertions of emergency power.”

Federal student loan collection is expected to restart by this summer.

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