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Opinion: The judge blocking student loan relief for millions is wrong about the law

The legal battles over President Joe Biden's student loan debt relief program heated up on Thursday, when the Fort Worth, Texas-based Judge Mark Pittman, a Trump appointee, struck down the program and issued a nationwide injunction purporting to block it across the country. The legal battles over President Joe Biden’s student loan debt relief program heated up on Thursday, when the Fort Worth, Texas-based Judge Mark Pittman, a Trump appointee, struck down the program and issued a nationwide injunction purporting to block it across the country. Biden’s program aims to provide eligible low- and middle-income borrowers $10,000 in federal student loan forgiveness – or up to $20,000 if they also received a Pell grant while in college. Before the program was put on hold, it had already received 26 million applications. Steve Vladeck Steve Vladeck But for Pittman, the central problem with the program is that its sheer economic size required clearer authorization from Congress than that provided by the 2003 statute on which the executive branch is relying. Invoking the Supreme Court’s new and deeply contested “major questions doctrine,” Pittman’s ruling would, if left intact, make it impossible for the program to be rescued without Congress stepping in.
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