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Fri Jan 15, 2021, 03:59 AM

Reanimated Corpse of Antonin Scalia Tries to Stop Student Debt Cancellation

An Education Department memo released this week, asserting that the agency has no authority to cancel student debt on its own, purports to be written by Reed Rubinstein, the principal deputy general counsel. But authorship could also be reasonably claimed by a man who has been dead for close to five years.

Former archconservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote six of the opinions cited in the memo, and co-authored a scholarly paper cited in the text. Scalia also concurred with the opinions in five other cases mentioned in the document. The only citations quoted at length in the memo either came from Scalia’s hand or sprung from an opinion he joined. It’s fair to say that Antonin Scalia, from the grave, wrote this analysis.

The Rubinstein/Scalia memo was obviously designed as a preemptive strike as the Trump administration comes to a close. For several years now, scholars and advocates have argued that the Education Department has all the discretion it needs through a provision of the Higher Education Act known as “compromise and settlement” authority to stop collection, reduce the amount owed, or forgive entirely the student loans of millions of borrowers.

The Education Department, in fact, has already used one of these authorities in the past year. During the pandemic, the agency unilaterally paused payments on student loans without accruing any additional interest. The CARES Act and the recent COVID relief bill also paused student loan payments, but off and on the Education Department has done it on their own. The Rubinstein/Scalia memo does some backflips to claim that the department did have the authority to pause payments but not to cancel them, even though it springs from the same statutory source.

Read more: https://prospect.org/day-one-agenda/reanimated-corpse-of-antonin-scalia-tries-to-stop-student-debt-cancellation/
(American Prospect)

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