The brief highlights the significant impact the plan will have on people of color who were devastated by COVID-19.
WASHINGTON– The Supreme Court must uphold the lawfulness of Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona’s student debt relief plan as proposed, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law argued in an amicus brief filed today in Biden v. Nebraska and Dept. of Education v. Brown. Joined by co-counsel Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, and 21 other advocacy organizations, the Lawyers’ Committee argues that the Biden-Harris administration’s student debt relief program provides critical relief to millions of lower-income borrowers, including millions of Black and Latinx borrowers who have shouldered severe and disproportionate blows from COVID-19’s extreme and enduring harms.
Consistent with the terms of the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (“HEROES”) Act, the Secretary’s plan is a necessary step to prevent an unprecedented economic fallout that will financially devastate lower-income communities, with particularized harms for communities of color who were hardest hit by the pandemic. The plan would make millions of lower-income borrowers eligible for relief, ensuring all individuals are in a fair position to recover from the pandemic’s long-term economic effects.
Should the Court fail to affirm the legality of the Biden-Harris debt relief plan, such a decision would compound existing racial disparities already exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and inflict grave financial harm to borrowers of color, the amici argue. The benefits of the plan are far-reaching and substantial: it is anticipated that the first $10,000 of debt relief will move over half a million Black borrowers from a negative to a positive net worth, thus helping to counter the negative economic effects of the pandemic.
“The Supreme Court must uphold the Biden-Harris Administration’s student debt relief program and affirm its commitment to protecting the millions of lower-income borrowers from needlessly falling into a spiral of delinquency and default on their loans,” said Damon Hewitt, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee. “For so many people–especially for Black and Latinx borrowers who were already more likely to fall into delinquency due to systemic inequities–the economic fallout of the pandemic continues to undermine their financial wellbeing and limit their future opportunity. With the potential to eliminate the debt of nearly 50 percent of Latinx borrowers and 25 percent of Black borrowers, the student debt relief plan would make an enormous difference for these Americans who often receive the least support, but have been most impacted by the pandemic. The Lawyers’ Committee urges the Court to do not only what is just, but what is necessary in a time of unprecedented economic uncertainty.”
“Every student deserves the opportunity to achieve their full potential, but the $1.7 trillion student loan crisis is crushing individuals, families, and our economy, with the weight of this burden disproportionately harming women and Black and Latino borrowers. This burden has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, making it hard for already marginalized communities to make ends meet. We cannot fail these borrowers by waiting any longer. The Supreme Court must uphold the Biden administration’s relief plan to protect students – especially borrowers of color and Black women – from the harms of our debt-financed system of higher education,” said Liz King, Senior Program Director Education Equity at the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights.
“We strongly urge the Supreme Court to uphold the lower court’s decision clearing the way for the implementation of the Biden Administration’s student debt relief program. President Biden’s program is fully consistent with the letter and spirit of the HEROES Act. Student debt creates lifelong financial burdens for millions of Americans and is a significant impediment to equal economic opportunity. Black and Latinx communities continue to bear disproportionate health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Combined with higher student loan debt and fewer economic opportunities, the pandemic has exacerbated the burden of loan repayment for Black and Latinx borrowers and federal action through debt relief is more important than ever,” said Janai Nelson, President and Director-Counsel, Legal Defense Fund (LDF).
“President Biden’s debt-relief program is a monumental effort towards educational equity, and this amicus brief convincingly outlines how blocking the program will further widen racial disparities by leaving behind communities of color as we reel from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said John C. Yang, President and Executive Director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC. “The pandemic has had an outsized impact on already marginalized communities, and we must rebuild the nation in ways that strengthen the foundations of our most economically vulnerable communities, including Black and Latino borrowers.”
“Borrowers of color have been disproportionately impacted by crippling student loan debt. This debt has made it difficult for Americans to purchase a home, start a business or even purchase day-to-day necessities,” said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. “As the world continues to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, more borrowers have been at risk of falling behind in payments or defaulting entirely. I am proud to join my colleagues in submitting this amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in advance of oral arguments in February.”
“Latino students and their families were already disproportionately impacted by student debt even before the pandemic. Congress, in its wisdom, equipped the government with reasonable tools to address financial harm from the pile of student debt that accrued during the pandemic, when payments were paused. The Administration’s legal and sensible relief program, which should be upheld by the Court, would provide one-time debt relief at this unique moment to those who need it most, allowing more Latinos to reap the full benefits of a college degree and improve their ability to contribute to the country’s economic growth,” said Roxanne Garza, Senior Policy Advisor, UnidosUS.
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to mobilize the nation’s leading lawyers as agents for change in the Civil Rights Movement. Today, the Lawyers’ Committee uses legal advocacy to achieve racial justice, fighting inside and outside the courts to ensure that Black people and other people of color have the voice, opportunity, and power to make the promises of our democracy real. For more information, please visithttps://link.edgepilot.com/s/0af03957/HWXnBbb2VUi6LCFsbg63Ag?u=https://lawyerscommittee.org/