This was the most ridiculous part of the Supreme Court’s argument for student loan relief

As the supreme court heard the arguments This week, on President Joe Biden’s student loan debt relief plan, a judge asked about the definition of relevant statutory text, whether plaintiffs are eligible to sue, and constitutional issues regarding separation of powers. are all typical issues discussed during judicial review. But conservative judges also spent considerable time questioning a more nebulous subject, fairness.

The issue of fairness arose during the Department of Education v. Brown debate. This is the case when two student borrowers challenged Biden’s plan because they were ineligible for some or all of the relief offered.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts said, “Because we are dealing with litigation with individual borrowers or potential borrowers, I think it is appropriate to consider some of the fairness arguments.” .

Roberts then presents a hypothetical scenario involving two high school graduates, neither of whom can afford to go to college. One has taken out a loan to go to college and one of hers has taken out a loan to start a lawn care service. “We know statistically that people who go to college do far better financially over their lifetime than those who don’t,” Roberts said.

“Then the government comes in and tells the person, ‘You don’t have to pay the loan,'” he said. “Nobody is telling anyone trying to start a lawn service business that they don’t have to pay a loan.”

For a court that often pretends to sit on political battles, this is a series of arguments that appear purely political in nature. In fact, the presiding judge conceded that his opinion on fairness was immaterial.

“You may have the following opinion [the] The fairness of it, and they don’t count,” Roberts told Attorney General Elizabeth Prelogger. not.”

So why is the Chief Justice questioning the fairness of the government’s plans?

The answer is that Roberts was trying to push the political debate over fairness into what is known as the court debate. Doctrine of the “leading question”.

“When we talk about spending government money, which is taxpayer money, we usually want to leave those situations to the person responsible for the money, Congress,” Roberts said.

“Why isn’t that a factor to take into account on our main issue — when we talk about statutory authorization to make sure this is what Congress does, we are not I’m going to look at things a little more rigorously than I thought.

“It is pertinent to consider some of the equity arguments,” Chief Justice John Roberts said during a debate on the student loan relief plan.

The Major Question Doctrine has emerged in recent years as a favorite tool for suppressing executive branch behavior disliked by the overwhelming majority of conservatives in the courts. This doctrine states that regulation of institutions of “high economic and political importance” must be expressly approved by Congress.

As the High Court now puts it, the doctrine in question is “not asking courts to use the ordinary tools of statutory interpretation to identify the explicit meaning of the statute, but to We are directing you to seek explicit and specific congressional approval for and Leah Littman of the University of Michigan Law School, “New Major Question Doctrine

Supreme Court upholds Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for large businesses, pandemic eviction moratorium, and For 2022 West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, Regulation Not Yet Proposed to Limit Greenhouse Gas Emissions at Power Plants.

Roberts said in the West Virginia lawsuit, “The EPA claimed to have discovered an unheralded force that represented a transformative expansion of regulatory authority.” Given these circumstances, there is every reason to hesitate before concluding that Congress intended to give the EPA the power to assert.”

A key issue here is the separation of powers concern. This means that Congress is the right place to adopt regulatory measures of economic and political significance. As Roberts said about the Biden administration’s potential actions on greenhouse gas emissions, Congress did not enact a precise regulatory scheme for that case.

However, the student loan forgiveness program has a fairly solid foundation in terms of legal recognition.

The HEROES Act of 2003 allows the Secretary of Education to “waive” or “change” the terms of federally held student loans during a national emergency. The COVID-19 pandemic is a very urgent situation. And the Secretary of Education waived and amended certain student loan terms in accordance with legislation passed by Congress.

In a debate about whether the doctrine of the leading issue should apply to student loan relief plans, conservative judges argued whether debt forgiveness fits the definition of waiver or modification, and whether benefit programs It questioned whether it was the same as regulatory action.Prelogar argued that Congress gave the Secretary of Education the power to waive or change some or all of the student loan terms.

Roberts’ insertion of the political question of fairness emerged as a way to expand the doctrine of the main question beyond whether Congress had allowed the secretary to grant some loans. Even if you approved a waiver or change of terms, did you consider whether it was fair? And isn’t Congress the only body that can judge fairness?

Student loan borrowers and advocates rally in Supreme Court debate over White House student loan relief plan.

Student loan borrowers and advocates rally in Supreme Court debate over White House student loan relief plan.

Student loan borrowers and advocates rally in Supreme Court debate over White House student loan relief plan.

“I don’t see any evidence that they recruited someone who was trying to start lawn service because they couldn’t afford to go to college. I didn’t see any evidence that they considered him,” Roberts told Prelogger. said.

Other conservatives followed suit. Judge Samuel Alito addressed the secretary general and demanded to know whether the government’s secretary of education thought the plan was fair.

“Why are you fair?” Alito asked. “Why don’t you answer ‘I wanted’? Maybe you wanted it, but why?”

“It was fair because without this relief, it’s clear that millions of student loan borrowers won’t be able to pay their student loans,” Prelogger replied. The HEROES Act was specifically designed for that situation, which is Congress saying to the secretary, ‘Don’t let that happen.'”

Justice Brett Kavanaugh declared that the plan would create “big winners and big losers” and speculated that Congress could “listen to all of it and take all of it into consideration.”

“Should such factors be taken into account in how we think about abandoning a broad reading or taking a narrow reading?” Kavanaugh said.

“No, I don’t think it should be taken into account in the way the law is interpreted,” Prelogger replied. “Courts must consider that text on their own terms.”

Prelogar does not seek to extend the doctrine to include whether Congress has fully considered the impartiality of conduct authorized by its statutes, but rather to the extent of the doctrine of the key issues set forth in previous cases. I was asking conservative judges to stick around.

The main question doctrine is criticized As a seizure of judicial power that allows conservatives to override executive action they don’t like without revisiting precedent. This series of questions during the student loan debate highlighted that criticism.

Conservative judges, when presented with a policy that did not quite fit within the current doctrine of the main issue, decided to expand it.