A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by two conservative groups intended to halt the Biden administration’s plan to cancel $39 billion in student loans for more than 800,000 borrowers.
In an order issued Monday, U.S. District Judge Thomas Ludington of the Eastern District of Michigan dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice, arguing that the groups did not have the standing for their complaint. Ludington said that the groups’ alleged injuries were not sufficient.
“But—even assuming that Plaintiffs’ alleged injury was sufficient—they have not adequately demonstrated a causal link between Defendants’ action and an identifiable injury,” the judge wrote in the 18-page order.
The complaint — which was filed by the New Civil Liberties Alliance on behalf of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the Cato Institute earlier this month — argued that the administration overstepped its power when it announced the forgiveness in July.
The lawsuit came just weeks after the Supreme Court struck down a broader cancellation plan for student loans pushed by President Biden.
“The district court did not rule on the merits of the case and instead said Cato and Mackinac were not the right parties to bring it,” Sheng Li, litigation counsel for New Civil Liberties Alliance, said in a statement to The Hill. “We disagree with the court’s conclusion regarding legal standing and are reviewing legal options with our clients.”
The dismissal comes a month after the Education Department announced it will provide $39 billion in total student debt relief for 804,000 borrowers. The Supreme Court had struck down Biden’s prior plan to give $10,000 of student debt relief to low- and middle-income borrowers and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients in a 6-3 decision in June.
A spokesperson told The Hill that the Education Department will not “back down or give an inch when it comes to defending working families.”
“The Biden-Harris Administration is fighting every day to fix the broken student loan system and make sure borrowers get the relief they earned, need, and deserve,” the spokesperson said. “This lawsuit was nothing but a desperate attempt from right wing special interests to keep hundreds of thousands of borrowers in debt, even though these borrowers have earned the forgiveness that is promised through income-driven repayment plans.”
Updated Aug. 15 at 11:16 a.m. ET