SCOTUS Student Debt Relief Decision Deals Yet Another Blow To Equal Educational Opportunity

June 30. 2023

For Immediate Release
Jun 30, 2023

Media Contact
Nazirah Ahmad
[email protected]

Statement from Noreen Farrell, civil rights attorney and Executive Director of Equal Rights Advocates (ERA), which fights for gender justice in workplaces and schools across the country

August 24, 2022 — Once again we are deeply disappointed with the actions of the Supreme Court, this time in the case of Biden v. Nebraska. The Court’s decision to strike down President Biden’s student debt forgiveness plan not only draws upon flawed logic that inflates the Court’s power, but will directly impact the livelihoods of millions of borrowers who will remain saddled with crushing debt. It will especially hurt women and people of color, who are more likely to hold student loan debt, blocking them from financial security and delaying pay equality progress by decades.

Coupled with its other decisions this week striking affirmative action in college admissions and upholding the right to discriminate against LGBTQIA+ consumers, the Biden v. Nebraska outcome confirms a dangerous course by the Court’s conservative majority. The direction is clear, as the Court decides to enforce centuries-old barriers that have kept women, people of color, and LGBTQI+ people from improving their economic status and holding positions of power. Millions of potential students will miss out on higher education, either deterred by lifelong debt or by being denied the opportunity entirely. 

Ultimately, this will hurt the economy for everyone and increase the gap between the richest and poorest in our nation. It will also deprive our country of many incredible future contributions that students of color, women, and LGBTQ+ students would contribute in every field if they were not denied equitable access to higher education. 

Equal Rights Advocates’ Family Voices research, which surveyed over 600 women across the U.S.—the majority of whom are Black and Latina—found half of the women surveyed barely earn enough to make ends meet. 85% took on additional debt during the pandemic as personal financial circumstances changed and they struggled to cover essentials like rent, utilities, and medical expenses. This is a problem that will compound: nearly 6 in 10 said they don’t feel confident in their ability to pay off that debt, now or in the future. 

We urge the Biden Administration to pursue alternative student debt relief action, as well as other policies that would improve economic security for millions, including a higher federal minimum wage, subsidized childcare, and free and legal abortion access. 

To request an interview with Noreen Farrell, please contact Erin Musgrave at (530) 864-7014 or [email protected]



About Equal Rights Advocates

Equal Rights Advocates fights for gender justice in workplaces and schools across the country. Since 1974, they have been fighting on the front lines of social justice to protect and advance rights and opportunities for women, girls, and people of all gender identities through groundbreaking legal cases and bold legislation that sets the stage for the rest of the nation.

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