On Tuesday, thousands of borrowers will protest as the Supreme Court decides whether the Biden administration can forgive billions in student debt.
On a cold and rainy Monday evening, over 100 people stood outside the courthouse. Groups will bus in many more as President Biden’s student loan relief plan, a significant campaign promise, goes before the justices.
Temple University junior Kayla McMonagle, a first-generation college student with $20,000 in debt, was among the first in line for Tuesday’s oral arguments in two challenges to Biden’s plan, with sleeping bags and emergency blankets.
“Many people think about our generation that we are not inspired to do things; we are always on our phones, always in our heads,” said political science major McMonagle. “But this issue affects our generation the most so far, and it will affect our children and generations to come.”
Organizers expect 3,000 Congress members, borrowers, and activists at a rally before the debate.
The demonstrations come while borrowers await Biden’s plan’s outcome, which may be months away.
McMonagle, a low-income student, said flying to Washington, D.C. and missing midterms was worth it.
I want grad school. Doctorate is my goal. I adore learning. I enjoy school. I want to study. She called Biden’s idea “life-changing.”
She and others will camp outside in the rain before tomorrow’s “People’s Rally,” organised by more than 20 national organisations, including the NAACP, Debt Collective, and New Georgia Project.
“The People’s Rally for Student Debt Cancellation ” strongly manifests our desire to establish a just and equitable future. “Through coming together, we can ensure that those most affected by student debt are heard and that policymakers can take action,” said Natalia Abrams, president and founder of the Student Debt Crisis Center.
The rally will begin two hours before oral arguments before 10 a.m., when the federal government will try to defeat six Republican-led states and two individual borrowers who did not qualify for the entire $20,000 in debt relief.
Both groups claim the Biden administration overstepped its authority, but the case may rely on whether the justices agree the challengers have legal standing.
Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.), the first Generation Z member of Congress, kicked off the campout on Monday night by telling the mostly young gathering that they were what the country needed.
“I’m optimistic because I need to be, but we’ve seen the court come up with some awful rulings over the, clearly, past year,” Frost remarked in an interview after his address. I’m optimistic because we must, and I hope they won’t disappoint us. We’ll see.”
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“Education is a key to racial and economic fairness for so many Americans, yet it stays imprisoned in an ivory tower,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) addressed the gathering afterwards.
Protesters say they represent 44 million student loan debtors who will be affected by these oral arguments and court decisions.
Mykeisha Wells, a University of Michigan graduate student with $60,000 in debt, said Monday night’s event was her first political demonstration.
“Relieving up to $20,000 in debt is pretty big for me,” Wells added.
Democrats enthusiastically favour student debt reduction, while Conservatives view it as unjust.
As Biden revealed his plan in August, 80 percent of Democrats backed it, and 71 percent of Republicans rejected it in a poll.
“Tens of millions of Americans expect President Biden to deliver the financial assistance they were promised rapidly and previously approved for,” said Debt Collective spokeswoman Braxton Brewington.
“There’s no clear legal basis for the Supreme Court to knock down relief, but should they overstep, Biden needs to employ other legal powers to deliver redress,” he concluded. “Trillions of dollars in student debt is weighing borrowers down—why are we showing up to the court in droves.”
— The Hill (@thehill) February 28, 2023
Conservatives have criticised using taxpayer money from people who never attended school or paid off their obligations to ease others’ bills. The GOP also claims the plan does not address college tuition prices, which cause excessive college debt.
Democrats claim the relief would benefit millions of middle- and lower-class Americans who struggle to pay their student loans each month. It would also fulfil Biden’s central campaign pledge.
After oral arguments and a ruling, we will keep pressing. Maggie Bell, New Georgia Project main organiser, observed, “One does not stop here.” “Ten-thousand or $20,000 of cancellation and relief is good but does not fulfil our requirement, right? So, the first step. We’ll keep pressuring leaders.”