Student Loan Borrowers to Rally 'In Full Force' as Supreme Court Weighs Biden Relief Plan
"Working people are looking to SCOTUS to follow the letter of the law and uphold critical relief for millions of student loan borrowers," say organizers.
Supporters of President Joe Biden's stalled student debt relief proposal are planning to rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. at the end of the month as justices hear a case challenging the administration's long-awaited program.
After Biden in August announced his plan to cancel up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients and up to $10,000 for borrowers with incomes under $125,000 for individuals or $250,000 for households, right-wing politicians and activists took to the courts. The administration has stopped taking applications while awaiting the high court's decision but also extended a pause on loan repayments until June.
Given that the right-wing court's ruling is expected to "determine the fate of this program and the economic freedom of millions," organizers of the People's Rally for Student Debt Cancellation intend to "bring the voices and stories of impacted borrowers directly to the steps of the court" on February 28 from 8:00 am to noon ET.
"I wanted to make sure that the justices look into the eyes of borrowers while they're doing the hearing."
"More than 26 million borrowers remain in limbo, including 16 million who have been officially approved for relief" through BIden's "life-changing" program, because of "blatantly partisan lawsuits were filed by the president's political opponents to block the desperately needed relief," organizers highlight on a webpage for the rally, set to be livestreamed.
"For too long the student debt crisis has exacerbated racial and economic inequality," organizers argue on the Campaign to Cancel My Student Debt website, managed by the Student Borrower Protection Center. "Working people are looking to SCOTUS to follow the letter of the law and uphold critical relief for millions of student loan borrowers."
Rise, a youth-led nonprofit that aims to make higher education free, plans to bring around 100 college students from the swing states Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin to the D.C. rally, co-founder Max Lubin toldInsider.
"I think that when people see who is impacted, if they themselves are not, they start to understand that this is about fairness and this is about opportunity, and not ruining someone's life with decades of unpayable debt just because you're trying to earn an education," he said.
"In these kinds of D.C. fights, oftentimes real impacted Americans, real people are not considered and not present, and they are ignored by either elected, or in this case, appointed decision-makers," Lubin continued. "So we're showing up in full force."
\u201cOnly 10 DAYS LEFT until the #SCOTUS hearings on student debt, and we'd love to see you at the steps!\n\nRSVP: https://t.co/tx0fCnHlVP?\u201d— Student Debt Crisis Center (SDCC) (@Student Debt Crisis Center (SDCC)) 1676750476
Melissa Byrne, executive director of We the 45 Million, a campaign that fights for student debt cancellation, told Insider that in addition to the rally the day of the oral arguments, there will be an event at 6:00 pm ET the night before the hearing.
"We're going to have fun with it in the evening," Byrne explained. "With a brass band, mariachi, acapella, people telling their stories, pizza, and just to really show and demonstrate that borrowers are just like your neighbors, and that this relief is helping out your communities around the country."
"I wanted to make sure that the justices look into the eyes of borrowers while they're doing the hearing," she added. "Our actions will show that the people with debt are just regular people from around the country."
Supporters of debt cancellation continue to call out those who have stood in the way of the president's proposal—which was more modest than many borrowers and other Democratic politicians had advocated.
"Whether purchasing their first home, starting a business, or growing their family, millions of borrowers will benefit from student debt cancellation," Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) said Sunday, adding that Biden "has the legal authority" and "Republicans must stop obstructing this relief."
Former Democratic congressional candidate Nina Turner—now a senior fellow at the New School's Institute on Race, Power, and Political Economy—similarly stressed Sunday that the president "has legal authority to cancel student debt and conservative judges are holding it up."
\u201cOur student debt relief program will help borrowers most at risk of delinquency or default from the pandemic get back on their feet. \n \n@POTUS & I will keep fighting against efforts to rob middle class families of the relief they need and deserve.\u201d— Secretary Miguel Cardona (@Secretary Miguel Cardona) 1676770200
"Over 40 million borrowers would qualify for this administration's one-time student debt relief," the White House tweeted Monday. "In every single congressional district, at least half of eligible borrowers either applied or were deemed auto-eligible for relief—in the one month the application was available."
"Millions of these borrowers—and more—could be experiencing relief right now," the White House added, "if it were not for lawsuits brought by opponents of the student debt relief program."