Washington, D.C. — Dozens of student loan forgiveness activists rallied outside the Supreme Court in the rain Monday night, hoping to sway the court ahead of Tuesday morning’s oral arguments for two cases with the potential to block President Biden’s $400 billion student debt relief plan.
The “overnight vigil,” co-hosted by We The 45 Million, MoveOn.org and Rise—three pro-student loan forgiveness groups—featured a jazz band, performances, student speakers and speeches from members of Congress. Some protestors plan to camp out at the court overnight, bringing snacks, supplies and coffee to get them through the night.
Multiple members of Congress joined to give speeches, including Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey and California Rep. Jimmy Gomez.
“I still owe $45,000 in student loan debt from my time in undergrad and graduate school,” said Rep. Gomez. pic.twitter.com/PglS6V4CAg
— Katelynn Richardson (@katesrichardson) February 28, 2023
“Let me just thank all of you for being out here to protest, to make your voices heard,” Democratic California Rep. Jimmy Gomez said. “Because we know this lawsuit is baseless. We know this lawsuit has no merit. And we want to make sure the Supreme Court hears that message.”
“People think that [members of Congress] are all wealthy,” continued Gomez. “But I still owe $45,000 in student loan debt from my time in undergrad and graduate school.”
In his comments, Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey blamed “radical Republicans” and called for going further to cancel “more debt.”
“What is standing in the way is meritless lawsuits from conservative interest groups and radical Republicans,” Sen. Markey said. “The Supreme Court must decide to ensure that students in our country get the protections which they need, and then we must go further in canceling more debt for more Americans until no person in this country is weighed down by their aspirations for higher education.”
“The is one of the most important decisions the Supreme Court will ever make,” he said. (RELATED: Supreme Court May Crush Biden’s Student Loan Bailout Dreams)
Matt Royer, Chief of Staff for Young Democrats of America, said all advocates were asking is for corporations to “take the foot off the neck of our generation.”
“From public universities raising tuition costs astronomically ahead of inflation to student loan corporations putting terms in front of young adults with minimal financial literacy, this is a system that has not worked for the betterment of our society,” Royer said.
One student speaker who attends SAE Institute said that “debt and freedom share no correlation.”
“When I chose to go to school, I was looking at the freedom that education provides, rather than the system that is designed to keep us in a cycle,” she said.
In August, President Biden unveiled a plan to forgive up to $10,000 in student debt for non-Pell Grant recipients and $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases challenging this plan Tuesday morning, Biden v. Nebraska and Department of Education v. Brown. Both cases contend that the Biden administration’s use of the 2003 HEROES Act to grant widespread student loan forgiveness is unconstitutional.
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