Sotomayor Takes on the Fairness Issue

  • SCOTUS Justice Sonia Sotomayor questioned efforts to strike down Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan on Tuesday.
  • Sotomayor was among several justices pushing back on popular GOP arguments about the “fairness” of the program.
  • Sotomayor was joined by justices Ketanji Brown Jackson, Elena Kagan, and Amy Coney Barrett in scrutinizing the cases’ standing to sue.

Liberal US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor brushed aside conservative arguments against President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan on Tuesday, urging the justices to consider the thousands of students affected.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard more than four hours of oral arguments involving two spin-off cases challenging the Biden administration’s program to cancel up to $20,000 in debt owed to federal borrowers.

The justices heard a case brought by Republican-led states that argued the debt relief would hurt their state’s tax revenue, and later picked up a case brought by two student loan borrowers who sued because they qualified for the full $20,000 debt. relief.

Conservative justices seemed skeptical about the legality of the Biden plan in their lines of questioning, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Neil Gorsuch raising the question of the fairness of giving student debt relief to some, but not all.

“I think it’s appropriate to consider some of the fairness arguments,” Roberts said, with Gorsuch also asking what the “cost” of the plan would be “in terms of fairness” for people who paid off their loans, who didn’t. . loans, or are ineligible for loans in the first place.

But Sotomayor countered that argument. Questioning Attorney General Elizabeth Prelogar, on behalf of Biden, about the scope of the debt relief plan, Sotomayor asked: “I take your bottom line answer is, everybody suffered in the pandemic, but different people got different benefits because they qualified. under different programs, right?”

“There is a fundamental inequality in society because we are not a society of unlimited resources. Every law has people who embrace it or people who fall outside it,” Sotomayor said, adding that “that’s not a question of fairness. It’s a question of with the law that protects or does not.”

Before the debates, Republican lawmakers raised their voices on the issue of fairness. GOP Sen. Rick Scott write on Twitter: I think it is unfair to make YOU pay for the debt of a small percentage of Americans who chose to take out student loans. Don’t you?”

It is not clear which way the more conservative court would follow. Conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the liberal justices in challenging the standing of both cases, but an additional conservative justice would be needed to support Biden’s debt relief plan.

Still, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona expressed confidence that the plan will prevail after the arguments.

“The Department of Justice argued against the laws aimed at denying relief to borrowers, made clear that challengers to the program lacked standing to even bring their cases to court, and explained the Department’s authority Twenty-year-old education used by numerous administrations to protect borrowers. from the effects of national emergencies,” Cardona said in a statement.

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