KATU: Oregon leaders, groups respond to U.S. Supreme Court decisions Friday

Friday, June 30, 2023

By:  Staff


The U.S. Supreme Court is seen on March 18, 2022, in Washington. The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that colleges and universities must stop considering race in admissions, forcing institutions of higher education to look for new ways to achieve diverse student bodies. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

PORTLAND, Ore. – The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday struck down President Biden’s plan to wipe away $400 billion in student loan debt, and also ruled a Christian graphic artist looking to design wedding websites can refuse service for same-sex couples.

The high court struck down the forgiveness plan, dashing the hopes of Alim and millions of other borrowers who were expecting their student debt would be reduced or wiped out entirely.

Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) offered the following comments:

“The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan is deeply disappointing for the more than 490,000 Oregonians who would have received forgiveness, most of whom were low-income students. Loan forgiveness, which was part of pandemic relief, would have put more than 40 million people across the country on a path to financial stability while boosting the economy.

“The facts speak for themselves: the benefits of President Biden’s student debt forgiveness would have largely been felt by low-income borrowers, borrowers making less than $75,000 per year, and borrowers who fell behind on their payments and needed some support to get back on track.

“The economic security and peace of mind of these borrowers is now even more uncertain. I will continue working to reduce the cost of college and make student loan repayment more manageable, and I strongly urge the Biden Administration and my colleagues in Congress to explore all options to provide hard-working Oregonians and Americans relief from the crushing burden of student loan debt.”

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) said this about the ruling:

“Once again, the far-right extremist Supreme Court has decided to radically alter people’s lives for the worse and this time it’s chosen to shackle millions of working-class borrowers in financial handcuffs. By throwing student loan forgiveness out the window, Americans will now be sadly forced to make hard decisions between paying off their student loans and putting food on the table. Shame on the Supreme Court.

“I will continue to fight tooth and nail in the Senate to get working class Americans the financial relief they need. A college education should be affordable and accessible to everyone.”

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) sent KATU the following statement:

“The skyrocketing cost of tuition leaves higher education out of reach for too many, while saddling millions with decades of debt. It is disappointing the Supreme Court struck down President Biden’s targeted executive action to alleviate this crisis.

“This ruling cannot and will not be the end of our efforts. President Biden should be aggressive in finding an alternative path towards loan forgiveness. Congress must also redouble its efforts to make college more affordable for future students.”

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority ruling on wedding websites holds particular significance in Oregon, where there have been several legal challenges surrounding Sweet Cakes by Melissa – a bakery that was fined for refusing to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple in 2013.

The attorneys who filed an appeal on Sweet Cakes by Melissa said:

“It’s a win when the Supreme Court vacates a bad lower court decision like it did for Aaron and Melissa today, but the case is not over,” said Kelly Shackelford, President, CEO, and Chief Counsel to First Liberty. “The Kleins have been fighting for the First Amendment for over a decade and we will stand with them no matter how long it takes to get the victory they deserve.”

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) offered this statement:

“Discrimination and hate have no place in America. Unfortunately, today the extremist majority on the Supreme Court has trampled on anti-discrimination laws in an effort to push an anti-LGBTQ+ agenda.

“It should be alarming to all of us that in 2023 we are even discussing denying goods and services to someone because of their identity. Nearly 60 years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson said, ‘Freedom is the right to share, share fully and equally, in American society.’ With the stroke of a pen, the Supreme Court constricted freedoms and our LGBTQ+ friends, neighbors, and community members won’t be able to escape hate and discrimination as they go about their lives. To realize the vision of America as a land of freedom and equality, we must be willing to take the steps to bring that vision closer to reality.

“Now is the time to pass the Equality Act, and add sexual orientation and gender identity to the protected classes under the Civil Rights Act. As we live our lives – at work and school, at home, and out in public spaces like restaurants or stores – none of us should have to keep our families hidden or pretend to be someone we’re not to do those things.

“This decision is especially gut wrenching as we bring Pride Month to an end. This Pride Month has underscored that Pride is not only about celebration; it is also about fierce advocacy and fighting for the future we want in America. That was true already as we see a wave of hateful legislation targeting trans youth sweep across the country, and it is even more true today as we see the highest court in the land take aim at the fundamental right of the LGBTQ+ community to receive full and equal treatment in American society. While today’s decision is a shameful setback, we will never let hate win.”

The Oregon Legislature’s LGBTQ Caucus said the following:

“This decision is proof that even with historic victories, we still have a long way to go for everyone – regardless of who they love or how they identify – to be equal in this nation. We will never live up to our pledge of liberty and justice for all as long as hate and bigotry are protected by the powerful.

“We condemn this discriminatory decision in the strongest possible terms.

“This decision will not make us more free. It oppresses a community built on love and acceptance.

“Oregon will continue to be a beacon of hope. We will continue to do everything we can to protect every Oregonians’ right to love who they love and live as themselves. We will not give up, and, in the end, we will be on the right side of history.”

Congressman Blumenauer had this to say:

“The First Amendment was never intended to give the right to discriminate. It is not only disingenuous but shameful to abuse it to perpetuate anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination. Congress must quickly codify the rights of LGBTQ+ Americans.”