A Preview of Supreme Court Cases Coming This Summer

By the end of this month, the Supreme Court is likely to release opinions with the potential to drastically change previous precedent, impact future headlines, and bring fresh topics to the 2024 election cycle. Two cases in particular stand out as politically salient: Biden v. Nebraska regarding student debt, and Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College regarding affirmative action.

Biden v. Nebraska

Last year, President Joe Biden invoked the HEROES Act to cancel $10,000 of student loan debt per borrower. One month later, 6 states filed a lawsuit challenging the program and asserting it violated the separation of powers as well as the Administrative Procedure Act. In February of this year, oral arguments were held with a verdict expected sometime in June.

Nationally, voters are split on how SCOTUS should rule on Biden’s student debt plan. Supporters of the proposal argue it will stimulate the economy and offer relief to those who need it most. Critics state the plan is unfair as it asks taxpayers to pay off debt incurred by individuals and is merely a Band-Aid covering the infection which is rising tuition costs. With inflation near its highest rate in over 40 years, opponents fear debt forgiveness would continue to add inflationary pressure. Recent polling conducted by Ipsos in May of 2023 shows 43% think SCOTUS should allow Biden’s proposal to move forward, while 40% think SCOTUS should block the proposal.

Which sentence do you agree with more?[1]


Those with Student loans

The Supreme Court should allow the government’s student loan forgiveness proposal to move forward.



The Supreme Court should reject the government’s student loan forgiveness proposal.



Borrowers with outstanding education debt typically hold between $20,000 and $24,999 and, on average, student debt makes up the second biggest share of household debt, only behind home mortgages. Unsurprisingly, voters who have student debt are far more likely to support Biden’s proposal.

When thinking about what actions the federal government should take on student loan debt, which of the following is closest to your view?[2]

Under 45


The federal government should eliminate all student loan debt for every borrower.



The federal government should eliminate some student loan debt for every borrower.



The federal government should not eliminate any student loan debt at all.



The older a voter, the more likely they are to oppose the elimination of student debt. Polling provided by Data for Progress in August of 2022 found that 76% of voters under 45 think the federal government should eliminate at least some student debt, while only 52% of voters over 45 think the same. There are a couple potential explanations for this trend. First, the older a voter is, the more conservative one tends to be. Second, and possibly more indicative, the older someone is, the less likely they are to hold student debt. The average time to repay student debt for a completed bachelor’s degree is 19.7 years. Many Americans who are older are more likely to have paid off their debt and less likely to receive any net benefit from the proposed debt relief.

Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College

Paired with a similar lawsuit occurring in North Carolina, this case concerns racial discrimination and affirmative action programs in college admissions. The question raised is whether the Supreme Court should overturn Grutter v. Bollinger which originally established affirmative action and permitted race as a factor in admissions.

Affirmative action policies have shaped higher education in the U.S. since the late 1960s and have been debated and redefined over the decades. Officially banned in 8 states, Supreme Court decisions have molded and modified this law for half a century. Public opinion results on this subject are mixed and heavily dependent on how the question is framed. According to a poll conducted by AP-NORC in May of this year, 63% of Americans say the Supreme Court should not prohibit affirmative action.


Should not

The U.S. Supreme Court is weighing whether colleges and universities can consider race and ethnicity as part of their admissions decisions, a practice commonly known as affirmative action. Do you think the Supreme Court should or should not prohibit the consideration of race and ethnicity in admissions?[3]  




When affirmative action is named directly in the question, most U.S. adults say the court should allow colleges to consider race as part of the admissions process. Furthermore, words with negative connotations or stricter complications, such as ban, prohibit, or veto, can produce a more negative response. That being said, when affirmative action is described, but not named, the majority of respondents believe race or ethnicity should have no consideration in college/university admissions.

Tell us if you believe race or ethnicity should be major considerations, minor considerations or not considered at all for college/university admissions.[4]

All Respondents



Major Consideration




Minor Consideration




No Consideration




In February of 2023, Reuters partnered with Ipsos to find that only 38% of Americans say race should play a role in the admissions process. When affirmative action is only described and not named, more than 6 in 10 Americans think race should be given no consideration in an admissions process – including 3 in 4 Republicans and nearly half of Democrats. Simply, the removal of highly politicized words in a survey can affect the results of the poll.


As we wait to hear the Supreme Court’s decision on these issues this summer, public polling gives us a hint of how voters will react. American voters are roughly split on Biden’s student debt plan, with younger voters being more supportive, and older voters being more critical. Public opinion on affirmative action depends heavily on how it is framed and what, if any, nuance is provided in the SCOTUS opinion.

[1] https://www.ipsos.com/en-us/support-student-loan-forgiveness-varies-across-different-amounts

[2] https://www.filesforprogress.org/datasets/2022/8/dfp_sbpc_8_22_tabs.pdf

[3] https://apnorc.org/projects/most-oppose-banning-the-consideration-of-race-and-ethnicity-in-college-and-university-admissions/

[4] https://www.ipsos.com/sites/default/files/ct/news/documents/2023-02/Reuters%20Ipsos%20Large%20Sample%20Survey%202024%20Primary_%20Debt%20Ceiling_Ukraine_University%20Admissions_%2002%2023%202023.pdf


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