People rally in support of the Biden administration's student debt relief plan in front of the Supreme Court

People rally in support of the Biden administration's student debt relief plan in front of the Supreme Court on February 28, 2023 in Washington, D.C.

(Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

'POTUS Better Have a Plan B': Organizers Brace for Supreme Court Ruling on Debt Relief

If the Supreme Court strikes down the student debt cancellation, said one campaigner, Biden "needs to act, and act fast."

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday will hand down its long-awaited ruling on the Biden administration's pending student debt relief program, a decision with huge implications for tens of millions of borrowers and the broader economy.

Organizers are preparing for the worst despite the glaring flaws in right-wing plaintiffs' arguments against debt relief, which rely heavily on supposed harms to a student loan servicer that is not even part of the case.

Astra Taylor, a co-founder of the Debt Collective, tweeted late Thursday that "SCOTUS will likely strike down Biden's current student debt relief plan tomorrow at 10:00 am."

"POTUS better have a Plan B," Taylor added. "He needs to act, and act fast."

White House officials have thus far declined to say whether the administration has an alternative plan ready in the case of an unfavorable ruling from the Supreme Court, which is dominated by conservative justices—including one who has faced calls to recuse over his ties to a billionaire hedge tycoon with financial connections to the groups working to block relief.

Speaking to The Messenger on Thursday, Taylor said it is "imperative" that the Biden administration act swiftly after the Supreme Court's decision even in the case of a ruling that upholds the president's program—a possibility given justices' skepticism over whether the plaintiffs have established legal standing to challenge the plan.

If the administration "moves like a snail" after the high court ruling, Taylor warned Thursday, another right-wing judge could issue "an injunction on baseless grounds."

"They need to deliver," said Taylor, "because people's lives are on the line."

Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), echoed Taylor's concerns, telling The Messenger that the White House must "not dilly-dally and let the right-wing file more lawsuits."

Bloomberg reported earlier this week that the PCCC "has a mobilization campaign ready to bombard the White House with emails and phone calls urging Biden pursue an alternative path if the court overturns his student loan forgiveness program."

Debt relief campaigners have long argued that the emergency authority the Biden administration invoked to cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt per eligible borrower is too narrow and highly vulnerable to legal challenges. Instead, advocates say Biden should use his power under the Higher Education Act of 1965 to cancel all outstanding student loan debt.

"We cannot afford to give up on cancellation, no matter what the Supreme Court decides," Satra D. Taylor, director of higher education and workforce with the advocacy group Young Invincibles, said after a rally outside the White House last week.

"Student debt cancellation is legal," Taylor added, "and we must provide relief for over 40 million borrowers now."

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