Chief Justice Roberts warns justices against condemning court after Kagan complains about student loan decision

"We do not mistake this plainly heartfelt disagreement for disparagement."


On Friday, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts warned other justices against demonizing the court in regard to decisions they disagree with after its recently issued ruling against the Biden administration's student loan forgiveness plan. 

In a statement, he wrote, "It has become a disturbing feature of some recent opinions to criticize the decisions with which they disagree as going beyond the proper role of the judiciary." He said that court precedent "requires that Congress speak clearly before a Department Secretary can unilaterally alter large sections of the American economy."

"We have employed the traditional tools of judicial decision-making in doing so. Reasonable minds may disagree with our analysis — in fact, at least three do," he said, noting that Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ketanji Brown Jackson, and Elena Kagan voted against the majority. 

"We do not mistake this plainly heartfelt disagreement for disparagement," Roberts added. "It is important that the public not be misled either. Any such misperception would be harmful to this institution and our country."

Roberts's statement came after the liberal Justice Kagan claimed in a dissenting opinion that the court overstepped its role. "From the first page to the last, today’s opinion departs from the demands of judicial restraint," Kagan wrote.

"The author of today's opinion once wrote that a 1970s-era standing decision 'became emblematic' of 'how utterly manipulable' this Court's standing law is 'if not taken seriously as a matter of judicial self-restraint,'" she said of Roberts. "After today, no one will have to go back 50 years for the classic case of the Court manipulating standing doctrine, rather than obeying the edict to stay in its lane."

"Courts must still 'function as courts,' this one no less than others," Kagan continued. "And in our system, that means refusing to decide cases that are not really cases because the plaintiffs have not suffered concrete injuries."

The Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the Biden administration doesn't have the authority to forgive student loan debt under the HEROES Act. In the opinion, Chief Justice Roberts wrote, "The Secretary [of Education] asserts that the HEROES Act grants him the authority to cancel $430 billion of student loan principal." He added, "It does not." 

In response to the ruling, several liberal politicians took to Twitter to condemn the ruling. Democrat candidate for president Marianne Williamson went as far as to declare her intention to "expand the court" should she be elected. 

Later, President Biden announced his plan to bypass the ruling and allow borrowers a 12-month "on-ramp repayment program" so that a missed payment will not harm the borrower's credit score.  

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