A day after the US Supreme Court struck down the race-based admissions at the University of Harvard and the University of North Carolina, the apex court of the USA has delivered two more blows to the liberals. On 30th June 2023, the Supreme Court of the USA blocked the move of US President Joe Biden to cancel $430 billion in student loan debt. The court, in another decision, upheld the freedom of a web designer to not cater his services to make wedding websites for gay couples.
Striking down President Joe Biden’s plans
The apex court has declared that the Biden administration exceeded its authority when attempting to limit student loans for millions of Americans. As a result, nearly half a trillion dollars of debt will be reinstated on household balance sheets. In response to this development, the President is preparing to unveil fresh measures aimed at safeguarding borrowers.
Last year, President Joe Biden unveiled a plan worth $400 billion, which aimed to eliminate up to $20,000 in federal student loans for 43 million individuals. Among them, 20 million people would have had all their remaining student debt completely forgiven.
In a 6-3 decision, the majority of conservative justices concluded that the Biden administration must obtain Congress’ approval before implementing such an expensive program. The court rejected arguments that a bipartisan 2003 law dealing with national emergencies, known as the HEROES Act, gave Biden the power to forgive loans of such large amounts without the approval of Congress.
“Six States sued, arguing that the HEROES Act does not authorize the loan cancellation plan. We agree,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in the order.
Unless Congress takes action, American households, who together carry a total of $1.6 trillion in educational debt, will soon need to resume monthly loan payments amounting to hundreds of dollars. This requirement comes after a hiatus of over three years without such payments. According to the administration, 43 million would have been eligible for the relief and 26 million had applied. The cost was estimated at $400 billion over 30 years.
Following the court order, loan repayments will resume in October, although interest will begin accruing in September. Loan payments have been on hold since the start of the coronavirus pandemic more than three years ago. The forgiveness program would have cancelled $10,000 in student loan debt for those making less than $125,000 or households with less than $250,000 in income.
Although this decision has placed the responsibility of repayment back on borrowers, it is expected to result in a significant reduction in this year’s deficit, at least on paper. According to the Department of Education, the projected cost of the debt relief program would have amounted to approximately $30 billion per year over the next ten years, considering the loan repayments that would have been forgone. This estimate translates to around $2.5 billion each month or a total of $305 billion. Additionally, the Department estimated the net present value of the loan forgiveness to be $379 billion over the span of a decade.
Upholding the rights of citizens to deny business interactions with LGBTQ
In a blow to the so-called gay rights, the conservative majority of the Supreme Court issued a ruling on June 30, 2023, stating that a Christian graphic artist, who desires to create wedding websites, can decline to serve same-sex couples. One of the liberal justices on the court expressed dissent, asserting that this decision effectively relegates gays and lesbians to a second-class status and creates a potential gateway for further instances of discrimination.
In a 6-3 decision, the court sided with designer Lorie Smith, despite the presence of a Colorado law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, race, gender, and other protected characteristics. Smith contended that the law infringes upon her freedom of speech.
Smith’s adversaries cautioned that a victory in her case could potentially enable various businesses to engage in discrimination, denying service to customers based on their race, religion (such as Black, Jewish, or Muslim individuals), marital status (such as interracial or interfaith couples), or immigration status. However, Smith and her proponents argued that a ruling against her would compel artists of different mediums, including painters, photographers, writers, and musicians, to produce work that contradicts their religious beliefs.
The court’s ruling represents a setback for the LGBTQ+ rights. Over the course of nearly three decades, the court had been broadening the rights of LGBTQ individuals and portrayed what liberals called a progressive outlook towards gender minorities. Notably, this included granting same-sex couples the right to marry in 2015 and, five years later, declaring in a decision that a significant civil rights law safeguards gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals against employment discrimination.