'A lone Trump-appointed judge in Texas' should not have the ability to block student-loan forgiveness for millions of Americans, says a Democratic lawmaker introducing a bill to stop it from happening again
Rep. Mondaire Jones criticized GOP-appointed judges' abilities to issue nationwide injunctions.
He referred to a Trump-appointed judge blocking student-debt relief for millions of Americans.
His new bill would channel that authority to D.C. courts and the Supreme Court only.
A Democratic lawmaker doesn't think conservative judges should have the power to halt Democratic policies for millions of Americans.
Last week, New York Rep. Mondaire Jones penned an opinion piece criticizing Republican-appointed judges' "unrestrained use of nationwide injunctions" to block Democratic policies. For example, federal Texas Judge Mark Pittman — appointed by former President Donald Trump — ruled President Joe Biden's plan to cancel student debt illegal in November, blocking the relief from reaching millions of Americans until the Supreme Court makes the final ruling on the policy's legality.
Jones said Pittman should not have had that power.
"Although the Biden administration has appealed this ruling, its long-overdue student debt relief program will now, at a minimum, be stalled for many months," Jones wrote. "This begs an important question: 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 referred to other instances where conservative judges issues nationwide injunctions on certain policies, like U.S. District Court Judge Kathryn Mizell in April — also appointed by Trump — striking down Biden's mask mandate for public transportation.
Jones said these rulings have shown "right-wing litigants" that they can target certain states like Texas that have a record of conservative rulings to make a decision in favor of their desired outcome, like blocking student-debt relief. To prevent that from happening, Jones introduced the Injunction Reform Act, which would bar federal courts from issuing nationwide injunctions of federal policies, channeling that authority instead to the federal district court in Washington, DC, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, or the Supreme Court.
"By making these three courts the only ones that can universally enjoin federal laws, regulations, and executive orders, my bill would vest this authority in the courts best suited to make decisions with national implications — as judged by their jurisprudential history and subject-matter expertise," Jones wrote.
Two federal courts have so far succeeded in blocking Biden's plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for federal borrowers. Pittman oversaw one of the lawsuits, filed by two student-loan borrowers who sued because they did not qualify for the full amount of relief, and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the other lawsuit filed by six Republican-led states who argued the debt relief would hurt their states' tax revenues, along with that of student-loan company MOHELA.
Biden's administration had argued in legal filings that the court should not have paused debt relief universally and asked it to be limited to just the six states that sued, but it was not successful in that request, and loan forgiveness remains on hold for every federal student loan borrower.
Some Republican lawmakers have lauded those rulings because they have consistently argued Biden does not have the authority to cancel student debt broadly without Congressional approval. Now, the fate of this debt relief rests with the Supreme Court as it will begin to hear arguments on February 28 as to whether Biden can move forward with the loan forgiveness.
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