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Berkeley Law faculty file amicus brief to Supreme Court for Biden v. Nebraska

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Biden v. Nebraska is challenging Biden's debt relief program on the grounds that it could cause revenue loss for the state of Missouri.


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MARCH 02, 2023

Faculty at Berkeley Law have filed an amicus brief to offer their expertise to the Supreme Court in the Biden v. Nebraska case surrounding student loan forgiveness.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday that will decide the fate of President Biden’s debt relief program. Berkeley Law’s Center for Consumer Law and Economic Justice, or the Center, is supporting the Biden administration’s plan.

“We’ve worked on a number of issues particularly relating to student loans,” said David Nahmias, staff attorney at the Center. “Specifically we’ve filed an amicus brief in the Biden v. Nebraska case, that is challenging President Biden’s plan to cancel student debt for 40 million Americans.”

The Biden administration announced a loan forgiveness plan last August that would cancel $10,000 in student debt for anyone earning up to $125,000 a year, and $20,000 for those who are lower income.

According to Ted Mermin, executive director of the Center, the total amount of student debt in the United States is $1.6 trillion.

“There’s an enormous amount of burden that people are facing in this country because of their student debts,” Mermin said. “People can be trapped for decades trying to pay down the debts they took out whose interest has ballooned over time.”

Biden v. Nebraska is challenging Biden’s debt relief program, arguing that the plan will cause revenue loss to the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority, or MOHELA, which could lead to revenue loss for the state of Missouri.

The Center filed an amicus brief, which is a legal brief filed by organizations that have a stake in an important legal case, to demonstrate how Biden’s debt relief plan would not have an impact on state revenue.

“What we showed in our amicus brief, and what was the subject of a lot of discussion at the oral arguments on Tuesday, was the relationship between Missouri and MOHELA,” Nahmias said.

According to Nahmias, the brief demonstrated that Missouri’s case is “far too speculative.” The Center’s research discovered that the state of Missouri has designed MOHELA to be completely separate from the state.

Another case discussed in Tuesday’s oral arguments, called Department of Education v. Brown, argued that the Department of Education had overstepped its authority and that consequential issues like debt relief should be addressed by Congress instead.

Dean of Berkeley Law Erwin Chemerinsky and Berkeley Law professor Jonathan Glater wrote an amicus brief on the merits of the case, arguing that Congress did explicitly give the Department of Education the power to modify student loans in times of national emergency.

“The law school is very involved in fighting for UC alums to be able to get what they’ve been promised by the Biden administration,” Mermin said.

Contact Olivia Branan at 


MARCH 02, 2023