- Arizona’s new Democratic attorney general dismissed a lawsuit seeking to block student-debt relief.
- It was filed by the former GOP attorney general in September.
- This lawsuit is separate from the two cases blocking the relief that are going to the Supreme Court.
Arizona just dismissed one of the first conservative-backed lawsuits that sought to block President Joe Biden’s student-loan forgiveness.
At the end of August, Biden announced up to $20,000 in student-debt relief for federal borrowers making under $125,000 a year — and lawsuits followed shortly after. One of those lawsuits was filed on September 30 by Arizona’s then-attorney general, Mark Brnovich, a Republican who argued canceling student debt is unfair and would harm the state by making it harder to recruit lawyers through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.
It was the third lawsuit filed that attempted to block the relief, and on Friday, Arizona’s new Democratic attorney general Kris Mayes dismissed the case. Mayes took office earlier this month, and she indicated that she would be reviewing whether to continue her predecessor’s legal challenge to Biden’s broad debt relief.
Notably, this case was slower-moving than the other legal challenges to Biden’s plan. Two other lawsuits succeeded in pausing the implementation of Biden’s debt relief, and those cases are now headed to the Supreme Court, which will hear the oral arguments on February 28.
One of the lawsuits was filed by six Republican-led states who sued because they argued the debt relief would hurt their states’ tax revenues, along with that of student-loan company MOHELA. The other lawsuit was filed by two student-loan borrowers who sued because they did not qualify for the full $20,000 amount of relief, and the Supreme Court will weigh whether both of those cases have standing, and if it’s legal for Biden to cancel student debt for millions of Americans.
Some Democratic lawmakers have criticized the potential partisan interests the federal judges have when they blocked the relief. For example, federal Texas Judge Mark Pittman — appointed by former President Donald Trump — ruled on the lawsuit filed by the two student-loan borrowers, and New York Rep. Mondaire Jones referenced conservative influences in December.
“How can a lone Trump-appointed judge in Texas, through a single opinion, overturn the Biden administration’s meticulously planned executive order in all 50 states?” Jones wrote in an opinion piece.
Republican lawmakers, and the plaintiffs in the case, have still continued to maintain that the broad relief Biden is proposing is an overstep of his authority using the HEROES Act of 2003, which gives the Education Secretary the ability to waive or modify student-loan balances in connection with a national emergency. Republicans have argued relief at this scale should require Congressional approval, but Biden’s administration has maintained confidence in their case — and that the Supreme Court should uphold the relief this year.