Judge Thomas wrote about the ‘overwhelming weight’ of student loans

Washington (AP) — supreme court If you want a personal take on the “overwhelming weight” of student loans that underlies the Biden administration, you needn’t look any further. College loan forgiveness plan..

Judge Clarence Thomas He was in his mid-40s and in his third year on the U.S. Supreme Court when he paid off his last loan from Yale Law School.

Thomas, the longest-serving Supreme Court justice and the most staunch conservative, Skeptical of other Biden administration initiativesAnd the Supreme Court on Tuesday President Joe Biden’s Debt Relief Plan With outstanding student loans that can run up to $20,000, Thomas is unlikely to vote in favor of the administration.

But the judges’ own experiences may be relevant to the way they approach litigation, the only one in which Thomas writes about the role student loans played in his financial struggles.

A fellow law school student suggested that Thomas declare bankruptcy after graduation.

It is not clear whether the other judges borrowed money to attend college or law school, or to educate their children. Others reported having scholarships to pay for some of the most expensive private institutions in the country.

Four out of seven judges in parental courts have indicated that they do not want their children to owe college debt through their investments, suggesting that tax-exempt colleges could limit their need. I am depositing money in my savings account. for loans.

Chief Justices John Roberts and Neil Gorsuch have the most cash on hand, at least $600,000 and $300,000, respectively, according to annual disclosure reports filed in 2022. In each he has two children.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who has seven children, and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who has two children, also invested money in college savings accounts.

A court spokeswoman said no judge had commented on the story.

In his story of recovery from poverty, Thomas wrote vividly about his past money troubles, and that repayment and delinquency notices were sent to his grandparents’ home in Savannah, Georgia, instead of Thomas’ home. about how the bank once foreclosed on one of his loans because At that time, Jefferson, Missouri.

Thomas was able to obtain another loan to repay the bank only after his mentor, then Missouri Attorney General and later U.S. Senator John Danforth, vouched for him. Because you gave me

Thomas pointed out that he signed up for Yale’s tuition deferral program. In this program, groups of students jointly paid outstanding loans according to their financial capabilities, with the highest earning students paying the most.

At the time, Thomas’ first wife Kathy was pregnant. “Not knowing what else to do, I signed on the dotted line and paid back the money I owed during his last two years at Yale in the next twenty years,” Thomas wrote.

According to news reports at the time, when he was first appointed to a federal judge in 1989, Thomas reported $10,000 in outstanding student loans. The Biden administration chose a number equal to the amount of debt relief most borrowers would get under its plan.

Personal experiences shape a judge’s questions in court, and even if they don’t affect the outcome, they can influence private conversations about the case.

“It’s helpful to have people with different life experiences just because it enriches the conversation.” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said:Like Thomas, Sotomayor grew up poor. As an undergraduate, she won a full scholarship to Princeton University and, like Thomas, went on to Yale Law School.

Preventing people from avoiding difficult choices like those faced by Thomas is an important part of the government’s claim for loan forgiveness. administration says Without additional help, many borrowers will be behind on their payments by this summer at the latest, once the hold since the coronavirus pandemic began three years ago is lifted.

Under the plan, which was announced in August but has so far been blocked by federal court, a $10,000 federal loan will be canceled for anyone earning less than $125,000 or for households with incomes less than $250,000. recipient of PelgranzAn additional $10,000 of debt is forgiven for those who tend to have less financial resources.

According to the White House, 26 million people have already applied and 16 million have been approved for relief. The program is estimated to cost him $400 billion over the next 30 years.

Legal battles have involved whether individuals suing over Republican-led states and plans have the legal standing to go to court, whether Biden has very broad loan forgiveness program powers under federal law, and more. , can affect any of several factors.

Nebraska and other states that object to the program claim that its 20 million borrowers could reap “unexpected benefits.” An Overview of the State’s Major Supreme Courts.

Which of these allegations will resonate with the court may become clear on Tuesday.

When she was dean of Harvard Law School, Judge Elena Kagan expressed concern about the high cost of law school, especially for students looking for low-paying jobs.

Cagan established a program Students can take their final year tuition-free if they agree to a five-year commitment to work in the public sector. That program no longer exists, but Harvard does offer grants to students for public service jobs.

At the time the program was created, Cagan said he wanted a student Allowing them to go to work where they “could make the biggest difference, but not right now.” I often work in places I don’t want to work.”


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