Two conservative groups have appealed a Michigan judge’s decision upholding President Joe Biden’s student loan relief plan for more than 800,000 decades-long borrowers.
The Cato Institute and Mackinac Center for Public Policy launched the fresh legal challenge Tuesday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. The appeal was filed on their behalf by the New Civil Liberties Alliance.
The legal maneuver is the latest of the many legal woes the Biden administration faces amid its pledges to make student loan relief a political priority. The appeal was filed the same day the Education Department launched into a protracted rule-making process to discuss targeted ways of erasing loan balances for broad swaths of Americans.
Student loan debt forgiveness: Education Department begins talks over new plan
In the appeal, the think tanks rejected the arguments laid out in a consequential 18-page opinion issued by Judge Thomas Ludington of the Eastern District of Michigan in August. Ludington, a George W. Bush appointee, said at the time the groups didn’t have standing in court to block the debt relief. He threw out the case.
Immediately, loan forgiveness began for nearly a million borrowers who’d been paying back their loans for more than two decades. One of them, Katrina Mosler, who spoke to USA TODAY in September, said the $27,000 had been a massive burden in her life. She’d been paying it down for roughly 20 years. Without the debt, she’s considering a down payment on a house, instead of a rental.
More: Student loan debt forgiveness becomes a reality for more than 804,000 who paid for decades
The forgiveness came after the Education Department promised earlier this year to alter how it calculates student loan payments and forgive debt worth about $39 billion. A sense of urgency was injected into that process after the Supreme Court struck down Biden’s largest loan forgiveness proposal.
The think tanks said in Tuesday’s appeals that even the smaller-scale relief — which affects roughly 800,000 older borrowers — was premature. In a statement, Mark Chenoweth, one of the lawyers arguing against debt relief, called the forgiveness an “extreme scheme” and “constitutionally repugnant.”
An Education Department spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the litigation Tuesday.
Americans remain largely split on whether student debt should be forgiven, according to various polls.
Zachary Schermele is a breaking news and education reporter for USA TODAY. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on X at @ZachSchermele.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Student loan forgiveness plan challenged in new legal battle