It was announced by the Supreme Court that in the coming months, it will hear arguments about the legality of President Joe Biden’s student debt relief program while keeping the policy on hold in the meantime. A high-stakes battle is being prepared at the high court early next year by the decision, and it will decide the fate of Biden’s sweeping plan to provide up to $20,000 of debt relief to tens of millions of Americans who owe federal student loans.

A ruling was deferred by the court recently on the administration’s emergency request to immediately reinstate its debt relief program. The justices will hear arguments on the matter next year instead, the court said. In a one-page order, the court said that the case will “be argued in the February 2023 argument session.” No dissent was not noted by any of the justices to the court’s decision not to immediately grant the Biden administration’s application to move forward with the debt relief program now. If not earlier, a decision is likely to happen by June, after the case was put on the docket for the current court term, said a report on Politico.

Just several months after Biden first announced his plans in August following months of pressure from progressives, the Supreme Court decided to fast-track arguments about the legality of Biden’s debt relief plan. In order to stop Biden’s debt relief, a wave of legal challenges was filed by conservative groups and Republican state officials.

Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, and South Carolina are the six Republican states that are involved in the challenge in the case that the justices have agreed to hear. The debt relief plan will reduce tax revenues, these states argue, or even other funding that is related to state-related entities that own, manage or invest in federal student loans.

Two questions will be addressed by the Supreme Court. The first will be whether the Republican attorneys general has the standing to bring the case in the first place, while the second question that will be addressed is “whether the plan exceeds the Secretary’s statutory authority or is arbitrary and capricious.”

Under the program, some 16 million borrowers for loan forgiveness have been approved by the Education Department, but since the middle of October, the relief has remained on hold because of the court challenges. And according to the department, nearly 10 million additional borrowers are in line for relief. After Biden and the Republican-led states sued to block his plan, it was both recommended that the Supreme Court address the merits of whether the debt relief program is legal.

In order to give the court time to address the case, Biden was extending the pause on federal student loan payments into next year, as he said. Payments would remain on hold while the Supreme Court considers the case, the White House reiterated again. This is what White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement: “We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case on our student debt relief plan for middle and working class borrowers this February.”

“This program is necessary to help over 40 million eligible Americans struggling under the burden of student loan debt recover from the pandemic and move forward with their lives,” Jean-Pierre explained.

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