Filed Date: Oct. 4, 2022
Clearinghouse coding complete
On October 4, 2022, the Brown County Taxpayers Association (BCTA), a local tax policy organization, filed suit against the Biden administration in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, alleging that the administration's announced one-time student loan debt relief plan was unconstitutional. The plan was designed to forgive $10,000 to $20,000 in student loans for qualified borrowers.
BCTA asserted that the [lan violated the separation of powers doctrine by making a new law, obligating the federal treasury, and unconstitutionally exercising the tax and spend power designated to Congress. They further argued the plan violated the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection clause because the administration created the plan with the express purpose of advancing racial equity and clearly stated that it would be more likely to benefit borrowers of color. Finally, BCTA asserted the plan violated the Administrative Procedures Act by exceeding statutory authority, because the Plan was not authorized by the HEROES Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1098ee(2). BCTA sought a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction barring any forgiveness of student loans, and a permanent order preventing any loan forgiveness without congressional authorization. The case was assigned to District Judge William C. Griesbach.
On October 6, 2022, Judge Griesbach dismissed the action, concluding that BCTA did not have standing to bring the suit, because paying taxes alone does not confer standing to challenge the implementation of a federal law. The court also denied as moot the motions for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, given the plaintiff's lack of standing. 2022 WL 5242626.
On October 11, 2022, BCTA appealed the lower court's decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and moved for an emergency injunction pending appeal, arguing that taxpayers do sometimes have standing. In a brief order without explanation, the Seventh Circuit declined to issue an emergency injunction on October 12, 2022.
On October 19, 2022, BCTA filed an emergency application for writ of injunction pending appeal with the United States Supreme Court. BCTA generally reasserted the same arguments from their lower court filings and asked the Supreme Court to consider:
(1) whether taxpayers may sue in federal court to prevent executive officials from unilaterally exercising the Constitution’s spending power in violation of “specific constitutional limitations,” and, if not, whether the taxpayer-standing doctrine ought to be overruled; and
(2) whether the Major Questions Doctrine prohibited President Biden from relying on the HEROES Act in creating the Plan.
On October 20, 2022, Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the Circuit Justice for the Seventh Circuit, denied the application. On November 7, 2022, BCTA moved to voluntarily dismiss the Seventh Circuit appeal and the Circuit Court granted the motion the same day, dismissing the case. The case is now closed.
Sandy Sulzer (10/20/2022)
For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/65398536/parties/brown-county-taxpayers-association-v-president-joseph-r-biden-jr/
Esenberg, Richard M (Wisconsin)
Lennington, Daniel P (Wisconsin)
Larsen, Christian R (Wisconsin)
Merritt, Robert Charles (Wisconsin)
Last updated July 21, 2023, 3:04 a.m.
State / Territory: Wisconsin
Filing Date: Oct. 4, 2022
Case Ongoing: Yes
Plaintiffs are taxpayers in Brown County, Wisconsin.
Public Interest Lawyer: Yes
Filed Pro Se: No
Class Action Sought: No
Class Action Outcome: Not sought
Causes of Action:
Prevailing Party: Defendant
Nature of Relief:
Source of Relief:
Order Duration: 2022 - 2022