March 1, 2023

This really annoys me. Morning Joe talks about the SCOTUS hearing on student loan forgiveness, and they completely miss an important point.

"We heard from Chief Justice Roberts, and if you want to give away half a trillion of taxpayer money, it's not something for the president to do but Congress to do."


Here's George Miller, one of the bill's cosponsors. He filed a brief spelling it out:

The Heroes Act gives the education secretary the authority to “waive or modify any statutory or regulatory provision” regarding federal student-loan programs as he or she “deems necessary in connection with a . . . national emergency.”

That language could hardly be clearer. “Statutory or regulatory provision[s]” regarding federal student-loan programs include the rules or regulations that would ordinarily require borrowers to pay their loan balances. By giving officials the authority to “waive” those requirements in connection with a national emergency, Congress empowered officials to say that those requirements no longer apply — that borrowers no longer need to pay off the debt they owe.

Wouldn't you think the denizens of Morning Joe could at least mention it? No, they reduced it to an argument about executive power. Both sides, etc.

Now, if you actually listened to the arguments, you would have learned that the usual SCOTUS suspects pretty much wrote off the HEROES Act, describing the forgiveness program as without basis.

They talked about how appalling it would be to let the president forgive all those loans without specific authority from Congress -- even though Congress already granted it. Elena Kagan via SCOTUSBlog:

Kagan interpreted the HEROES Act very differently. When Campbell reiterated that the act gives the secretary of education the power to waive or modify student-loan laws and regulations, not to cancel debt, Kagan countered that the law is “quite clear.” Congress gave the secretary the power to waive or modify existing provisions and to add new ones in their place. “This is a bill about what happens when you have an emergency,” Kagan continued. “Congress doesn’t get much clearer than that.”

Morning Joe might have dug into John Roberts' Major Question Doctrine, which is something he made up to rule against cases he didn't like. (See West Virginia v. EPA, where he rules in favor of Big Coal over the EPA.) Via the American Bar Association: "One can glean that the MQD might apply where an agency’s new policy or rule will have a significant impact on the economy or national policy and springs from an enlargement of an agency’s power or growth in a new area of regulation, or if the agency’s use of the statute is novel."

If you knew nothing about this case except what you saw on Morning Joe, you wouldn't understand it. Why did they bother bringing it up if they didn't plan to explain it?

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