The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Sanders Statement on Supreme Court Overturning Student Debt Cancellation

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, issued the following statement Friday after the right-wing majority of the U.S. Supreme Court moved to block President Biden’s action to cancel student debt for 40 million Americans:

Today’s 6-3 Supreme Court decision is a devastating blow for tens of millions of low-income and working class Americans who were hoping for relief from the severe financial stress they face due to a mountain of student debt.

Thirteen years ago, in the disastrous Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court ruled that billionaires can legally buy elections. Today, the Supreme Court has made it clear that they will continue doing everything possible to protect the big money interests against the needs of struggling working families. This right wing ideology is consistent with their recent decisions: denying women the right to control their own bodies, ending affirmative action, attacking LGBT rights and limiting the government’s ability to address climate change.

Justice Kagan is absolutely correct when she wrote in her dissenting opinion that “this case should have been open-and-shut” in favor of the Biden Administration, the “Court’s first overreach in this case is deciding it at all,” and that the Supreme Court should “stay away from making this Nation’s policy about subjects like student-loan relief.”

In my view, if right-wing Supreme Court justices want to make public policy they should quit the Supreme Court and run for political office. Frankly, I do not think their extremist views will gain much traction with the average American voter.

Today, I am urging the Biden Administration to implement a Plan B immediately to cancel student debt for tens of millions of Americans who are struggling to pay the rent, put food on the table, and pay for the basic necessities of life.

Despite this legally unsound Supreme Court decision, the President has the clear authority under the Higher Education Act of 1965 to cancel student debt. He must use this authority immediately.

If Republicans could provide trillions of dollars in tax breaks to the top one percent and profitable corporations, if they could cancel hundreds of billions in loans for wealthy business owners during the pandemic when Trump was President and if they could vote to spend $886 billion on the Pentagon, please don’t tell me that we cannot afford to cancel student debt for working families.

The American people understand that we cannot continue to crush our young generation with a mountain of debt for doing the right thing – getting a college education.

As the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, I will do everything I can to make sure that the more than 40 million Americans who are drowning in student debt get the relief that was promised to them as soon as possible.

Lastly, the time is long overdue for the Supreme Court to do what every other branch of the judiciary does. They must establish a code of ethical standards so that justices cannot secretly accept lavish financial gifts from billionaire patrons.

Founded in 2017 by Dr. Jane Sanders and David Driscoll, the mission of the Sanders Institute is to revitalize democracy by actively engaging individuals, organizations and the media in the pursuit of progressive solutions to economic, environmental, racial and social justice issues. The Sanders Institute seeks to bring truth to the policy debate with rigorous research, innovative and common sense policy, presented in dialogue with a range of advocates in order to engage everyone in the issues that really matter.