On Thursday, a federal judge in Texas ruled that Joe Biden’s attempt to unilaterally cancel student loan debt exceeds the authority of the Department of Education, and must be delayed pending further legal challenges.
ABC News reports that Judge Mark Pittman, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, ruled in favor of the lawsuit first filed in October by the Job Creators Network, a conservative and pro-small business organization. Judge Pittman’s ruling was the second major legal blow to the program, after a federal appeals court issued a stay while it reviews a lawsuit against the plan filed by six Republican-led states.
In his ruling, Pittman determined that the question of whether or not student loan debt forgiveness “constitutes good public policy is not the role of this Court to determine.” Pittman pointed out that “no one can plausibly deny that it is either one of the largest delegations of legislative power to the executive branch, or one of the largest exercises of legislative power without congressional authority in the history of the United States.”
“The Court is not blind to the current political division in our country. But it is fundamental to the survival of our Republic that the separation of powers as outlined in our Constitution be preserved,” Pittman continued. “And having interpreted the HEROES Act, the Court holds that it does not provide ‘clear congressional authorization’ for the Program proposed by the Secretary.”
The Biden Administration has not yet commented on this particular ruling, but has previously vowed to defend the program from any and all legal challenges.
“While opponents of our plan are siding with special interests and trying every which way to keep millions of middle class Americans in debt,” said Deputy Press Secretary Abdullah Hasan back in October, “the President and his Administration are fighting to lawfully give middle-class families some breathing room as they recover from the pandemic and prepare to resume loan payments in January.”
The Administration has claimed that up to 43 million Americans are eligible for student loan debt relief, and that 26 million people had already applied as of November 3rd. Subsequently, the White House claims to have reviewed and cleared the applications of 16 million people for relief.
Judge Pittman was appointed to the District Court by President Donald Trump in 2019.