The Supreme Court oral arguments on President Joe Biden's student loan forgiveness program will kick off soon. First up at the podium before the nine justices will be US solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar.
She is expected to argue that the administration had the clear legal authority to provide relief to borrowers in order to protect them from the financial harms brought on by the pandemic, such as the inability to buy food or make rent or mortgage payments.
She will stress that the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003—known as the HEROES ACT—provides the legal authority for the relief. She will also say that the states do not have the sufficient injury necessary to bring the claim in the first place.
Next up will be Nebraska’s Solicitor General James A. Campbell – representing the six states involved — who will offer several theories to explain why the states will be injured if the plan is allowed to go into effect. Most of his theories revolve around the potential of lost tax revenue. He's also expected to stress that the plan amounts to an unlawful attempt to erase an estimated $430 billion of federal student loan debt under the guise of the pandemic.
Once Campbell wraps up, Prelogar will likely return to make a few closing arguments. The case is slated to last an hour, but look for it to go at least two hours.
Next comes the second case: With no break, the justices will then tackle the second case initially brought by two student borrowers.
Prelogar will appear again and is expected to say that the students – Myra Brown and Alexander Taylor — like the states, don’t have the legal right to bring the case. She is likely to emphasize that the borrowers didn’t qualify for full relief in the first place, so they won’t be injured if the plan goes into effect.
J. Michael Connolly will then step up on behalf of Brown and Taylor. Connolly works for the boutique law firm Consovoy McCarthy, which also represented former President Donald Trump in some of his legal battles. The attorney is likely to repeat what he said in briefs. The HEROES ACT “does not authorize the Secretary to cancel nearly half-a-trillion dollars in debts held by tens of millions of individuals."
This case may not go as long as the first because so many of the issues are the same. Prelogar will then return to end the marathon session.
What happens next: Under normal circumstances, a case with such high political stakes would likely be resolved in late June or early July. But because the justices expedited the briefing, there is a possibility they may prioritize the opinion and release it before the end of the term.