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The Trump-appointed judge who blocked Biden's student-loan forgiveness compared the debt relief to a law enabling Hitler

Student Loan Debtors Gather At The White House To Demand That President Biden Cancel Student Debt In August
A sign asking President Biden to Cancel Student Debt is seen posted on Pennsylvania Ave near the white house staff entrance during a demonstration demanding that President Biden cancel student loan debt in August on July 27, 2022 at the Executive Offices in Washington, DC.
  • Mark Pittman, a federal judge in Texas, blocked Biden's student-debt relief last week.
  • In a hearing prior to the ruling, Pittman compared the relief to a law that gave Hitler power.
  • Some legal experts have criticized the decision, arguing the plaintiffs did not have standing to challenge the relief plan in court.

A federal judge who just blocked student-loan forgiveness likened the relief to a law that gave Adolf Hitler absolute power.

On Thursday, Mark Pittman — a Trump-appointed federal judge in Texas — struck down President Joe Biden's plan to forgive up to $20,000 in student loans for federal borrowers making under $125,000 a year, declaring it illegal. The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by two student-loan borrowers who sued because they did not qualify for the full amount of debt relief. 

But shortly after the ruling, a transcript of the hearing for the lawsuit was made publicly available.  The Biden administration used the HEROES Act of 2003 to enact one-time debt cancellation, which gives the Education Secretary the ability to waive or modify student-loan balances in connection with a national emergency, like COVID-19. Replying to that argument, Pittman suggested that allowing loan forgiveness in response to an emergency is similar to a German law that gave Hitler power.

"You know, you could also make the argument that so was the authority given to Hitler after the Reichstag fire," Pittman said. "What is the Court's role if Congress has given away too much of the authority that is supposed to be deemed in that branch under the Constitution? There has to be some sort of recourse, doesn't there?"

The Reichstag fire was an arson attack on the German parliament in 1933, weeks after Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany. Pittman was referring to the Reichstag Fire Decree, which gave Nazis the power to supress and imprison anyone they considered their opponents. That decree was followed by the Enabling Act, which allowed Hitler and his government to directly enact laws without legislative approval. Historians said these  laws gave rise to Hitler assuming full power over Germany. 

Pittman didn't elaborate on the comparison in the transcript, but some legal experts have criticized Pittman's ruling because they argued the plaintiffs in the case did not have standing to sue. Leah Litman, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Law, wrote on Twitter that the court should never have taken up the case in the first place because the plaintiffs' arguments did not line up. 

"At some point, Democrats are going to have to confront this -- and do something about our federal courts," Litman wrote. "Again this is a Trump-appointed judge invalidating student debt cancellation (after likening statutes authorizing debt cancellation to ... the rise of Hitler!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)"

Biden's administration filed an appeal to Pittman's decision, which came right before the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled the debt relief should remain paused on Monday, in response to a different lawsuit filed by six Republican-led states who argued the loan forgiveness would hurt their states' tax revenues. 

For now, the 26 million borrowers who submitted their applications for debt relief are in legal limbo awaiting a final decision from the courts, and given that the legal processes could take months, the White House is reportedly considering extending the student-loan payment pause again, beyond its current expiration of December 31. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

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