Category Archives: Politics

Silicon Valley Unsung Hero: Roy L Clay Sr.

Roy L Clay Sr.

Photographed by: Onyx Truth

 Silicon Valley is the hub of technological innovation, home to hundreds of companies. Roy L. Clay Sr., also known as The Godfather of Silicon Valley, is responsible for its success. He was a founding member of Hewlett-Packard’s (HP) first computer division, which put Silicon Valley on the map. This, and his many other technological ventures,  played a crucial role in establishing several enterprises to increase the representation of African Americans in the city of technology. Yet his legacy is not known to the general public. One of his sons, Rodney Clay, stated that “if you ask a kid now, who created Silicon Valley? They’ll probably say Mark Zuckerberg. They might even go back and say…Bill Gates. But they can’t go much farther than that.” 

Despite facing the barriers of segregation, Clay’s determination and hard work earned him a scholarship to study mathematics at Saint Louis University. While he had a passion for baseball, he chose to focus on his academic goals and was among the first African Americans to graduate from SLU.

After spending some time working as a teacher, Clay eventually landed an interview for McDonnell Aircraft Corporation. But despite his qualifications, he was told, “I’m very sorry, we don’t hire professional Negroes.” While he would eventually reapply and land a job with the corporation, it was at his next job and his move to Palo Alto, California, in 1962, that marked the beginning of a journey that would lead him to greatness.

In 1958, Clay ended up working at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where he would write software for the U.S. Department of Energy. This software would display how radiation particles would spread after a nuclear explosion. As word spread about the work he was doing at the lab, it would eventually be caught by David Packard, who would personally recruit Clay to Hewlett-Packard (HP).

Joining HP in 1965 was another step toward his goal. With his unwavering determination and leadership skills, Clay helped launch and lead the computer science division in 1965, leaving a lasting impact on the world of technology. The creation of the HP 2116A minicomputer launched the company into the world of computers. This launch was viewed as a negative by HP’s co-founder Bill Hewlett, who was paraphrased by Clay’s son Rodney, as saying “you’ve [Clay] done us a disservice. You’ve gotten us into the computer industry. I [Hewlett] want you to get us out of it.” 

Additionally, Clay held the highest-ranking position of any African-American member or staff at HP until he left in 1971 to pursue his dream of starting a consulting business. His expertise and dedication helped Kleiner Perkins, a venture capital firm, identify investments that became some of the biggest names in tech, such as Tandem Computers. Yet Clay was not finished when it came to how many accomplishments one could achieve. 

He would make another mark on history when he became the first African American to be elected to Palo Alto City Council in 1973. A white friend of Clay had been the one to encourage him into running for local politics. This venture would eventually lead to him becoming vice mayor for two years (1976-77).

In 1977, Clay started ROD-L Electronics. One of his sons, Rodney, explained, “Safety testing is what ROD Electronics is about. We started selling our equipment to companies manufacturing all kinds of electrical things, from printers to copy machines and computers. Our goal was to sell to every company that was building electrical products so that they would use our tester to verify the safety of their test. They could put an underwriter laboratory sticker on their product, put it in a box, and know they’ll be okay. And that’s what Rod Electronics is all about, so we built the equipment that allowed other manufacturers to do that test.”

It is an undeniable fact that Clay had to confront racism even after becoming the first African-American member of the Olympic Club of San Francisco in 1989. It is worth noting that this club has a long history, established in 1860, but until 1989, no minorities or women were permitted to become members.

Rodney Clay said how the members felt after his father became a member, “The Olympic Club used to have a policy of not allowing black people to become members. The club’s bylaws stated that only white Anglo-Saxon males could join. However, my father, the first black member, broke this barrier and paved the way for people of all ethnicities to join the club. He even went on to become a board member and eventually the club’s president, which was a remarkable feat considering the racism and anger he faced from some members who had been there for generations. Some people were so upset by his inclusion that they took his picture off the wall. A white friend of his said to Roy, ‘I’m taking all the pictures off the wall. He went and tore all the pictures off the wall.’”

Clay, a prominent figure in the technology industry, was recognized by the African American Museum and Library at Oakland in 2002 as one of the most significant African-Americans working in technology. Furthermore, ROD-L Electronics, a company in San Mateo County, was honored with the Dads Count Family Friendly Employer Award. Clay’s contributions to the technology industry were also acknowledged in 2003 when he was inducted into the Silicon Valley Hall of Fame. His story serves as an inspiration to all those who face obstacles in achieving their dreams.

This led to the writing and publication of his autobiography “Unstoppable: The Unlikely Story of a Silicon Valley Godfather.” Virginia Clay, the late wife of Mr. Clay had been a huge inspiration to him throughout his life and career. It was her idea for him to write his life story as to not only preserve his legacy, but to also inspire others in pursuing their dreams. His son Rodney said that “…she [Virginia] was the one who said, ‘Roy, you’ve got to write your story as an inspiration to minority kids coming up.’” He goes on to say that “…I think it was more my mom saying…’I want people to know about you…’ My mother was very proud of him. And she was a big reason….for him being who he was…”

In terms of how Clay felt about his book, one of his other sons, Roy Jr., stated that “…he [Roy Sr.] wanted to get some degree of recognition, but really just to get a lot of different things out there. So recognition, being able to help the community, a lot of a lot of reasons all combined together.” He furthers this by saying that “… that was his kind of mantra. And that’s primarily why he wanted to write the book was to be inspirational.” His son Chris, added to this by saying “… whether it be in technology, whether it be in other disciplines, whatever it is…don’t let anything slow you down.”

While Roy Clay Sr. may not be able to do press for his book and life story as a whole, his sons do that job for him. Chris Clay was able to talk at Stanford last year to minority engineering students. He also stated that he had the ability to do another talk with 80 engineers from the company he currently works at. He believes that the book “…has become a big vessel for us to go out and do these sorts of talks and really start to spread the message to other groups. Without a book, then we’re just kind of talking and especially without him there, we don’t quite have the reach and quite have the credibility, but with the book in hand…we are getting a lot and a lot of attention, and a lot of momentum, a lot of visibility to the audience that we want to reach a global audience of all makes increase in interest.”

Chris C. goes on to say that “…we are absolutely getting a lot of reach into…primarily underrepresented people…looking to achieve whatever they want to be, in engineering or other fields of study.” Roy Jr. follows this sentiment when he brings up his father’s start in technology, “…he dealt with a lot of things when he was growing up…he had to deal with a lot, a lot of racism, a lot of…rejection from mainstream society. And in the process of climbing up out of all of that, I think he started to realize that, really, there’s a lot of pathways that need to be created…for the black community to be able to…advance itself in any way.”

After decades in the making, the book was released in July of 2022. His sons are currently in the process of finishing a children’s version which is slated for release in 2024.


Feb. 24 marked the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine, where Russia continues to ravage the north, south, and eastern countryside, terrorizing the citizens of Ukraine. To date, current reports estimate 8,401 killed and 14,023 wounded, with new information coming in every day.

Since the war began, there have been an inspiring number of rallies and a tragic amount of funerals and vigils in Ukraine and the United States. On Feb. 28 at Stanford University, a vigil was held to honor the fallen service members and victims of the war in Ukraine.

The “Taize Prayer” vigil took place around 7 p.m. at Stanford Memorial Church, organized by the Ukrainian Student Association at Stanford and the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America’s San Jose branch. A dark, somber, yet beautiful setting was observed in silence, but the night itself was full of music and harmonic tones and hymns coming from those who participated in the prayers. On a stormy night with low visibility under rainy conditions, the church was welcoming, layered with extravagant art, and candles lit throughout. Surely, if you did not visit the church often, the night’s setting only intensified the scale of what was being mourned, a deadly war that is unjust and has claimed a regrettable number of victims. 

The history of the Taize dates back to 1940, when it was founded by Brother Roger Louis Schutz-Marsauche — a Monk who belonged to an ecumenical monastic order of Roman Catholics and Protestants. Brother Rogers was 90 years of age when he was stabbed and killed in 2005 at a prayer service.   

The vigil lasted for the span of about an hour. It was hard not to think of how far away the war was with respect to the church. The church’s enormous size, towering stained glass, and high ceilings emphasize the war’s immenseness. Ukrainian families and military forces have experienced tremendous loss in the death of some amazingly talented, dedicated, and passionate people. 

Medics, emergency service volunteers, journalists, filmmakers, artists, authors, and many more important members of Ukrainian society have fallen victim to this war. Estonian Defense Minister Kusti Salm, in a Washington briefing, stated, “In this area, the Russians have employed around 40,000 to 50,000 inmates or prisoners. They are going up against regular soldiers, people with families, people with regular training, valuable people for the Ukrainian military.”

Currently, the actual numbers are unknown, but some reports say more than 8,000 Ukrainian civilians have been killed and 14,000 wounded. Additional reports on military personnel say 9,000, while others report losses of 100,000. There is no concrete information about how many funerals there have been.                           

Vigil attendees were scattered throughout the church, sitting across long benches, giving each person a chance to grieve and contemplate individually or with friends and family. After the vigil, there was emotion, tears, and embraces from church participants. A few stepped forward to lend their voice, “It’s very heartbreaking to lose people you grew up with; we ask ourselves why they had to die. I think of the holidays, my childhood, and it’s hard to talk about, said UNWLA member Alla Torska. Another member, Iryna Anpilogova, stated, “I just left my friends behind in Spain, and I can’t see them now. I was speaking with a friend back home and crying. We spoke about how Mauriapol doesn’t exist anymore. It’s hard to find the words, and to simply say that I’m sad doesn’t fully comprehend how I feel.” 

Another vigil was held on Mar. 24 at the Capitol Mall in Sacramento at 6 p.m. This vigil, being more demonstrational, had aspects of a rally and was organized by the Sunflower Society of Sacramento, a group dedicated to bringing awareness to the ever-developing situation in Ukraine. 

The vigil began as the sun set, with a large showing from local Ukrainian residents and some who traveled to attend the event. Although this was a vigil, it was just as much about the expression of outrage toward the genocide and mass murder of Ukrainian people, stolen from their lives by Russian aggression, with the majority of supporters recognizing these actions as Russian terrorism. 

The prevailing facts are that Russia is waging an unjust war using illegal, inhumane, and barbaric tactics. With numerous Human Rights violations, Putin has been officially recognized as a war criminal. Simultaneously, the civilian death toll continues to rise in Ukraine. This month, April, Russia is due to take up the leading chair for the U.N. Security Council as they did in Feb. 2022. Each of the 15 members takes up the presidency in rotation. “Unfortunately, Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council, and no feasible international legal pathway exists to change that reality,” said White House press secretary Karen Jean-Pierre. 

As a permanent member, Russia has veto power, and to pass a vote, it requires nine votes in favor, absent a permanent member voting against it. Russia has vetoed past measures to address their aggression from the council with abstentions from China, India, the United Arab Emirates, and Brazil. Ukraine’s presidential adviser, Mykhaylo Podolyak, stated that this was “another rape of international law … an entity that wages an aggressive war, violates the norms of humanitarian and criminal law, destroys the U.N. charter, neglects nuclear safety, can’t head the worlds key security body.” 

There were demonstrations with the evening light, and attendees of all ages, ranging from seniors to children, came out to support the vigil. Protesters held signs highlighting Russian terrorism and calling for the arrest of Putin, the war criminal. There was discussion, live art performances, music, and displays. The attendees chanted “Slava Ukraini,” while some educated others by sharing information and updates. Two organizers stepped forward to give captivating speeches and engaged with the audience, Daria Avtukh and her Mother Olena Avtukh. A few more speakers, including former California Assemblyman Ken Cooley, joined in with a message to remain united in supporting Ukraine’s efforts. 

Night fell just as speeches ended, along with observed moments of silence to mourn for those who passed as a result of this war. The signs from the demonstration and artwork were set up for display, illuminated by rows of candles. “This vigil, like any other vigil we’ve held, has a special place in my heart. None of them are alike, but they all mean strength and perseverance to me. The fact that we’re here and stand up and raise our voices after 13 months of this horrible war means that this tragedy touches our hearts deeply, and we won’t let it go unnoticed or forgotten. To me, this vigil meant another step closer to the victory of light over darkness,” said Daria Avtukh, Sunflower Society Organizer and Miss Ukraine California 2023.

As the evening ended around 8:30 p.m., organizers stayed behind with those who wished to share and observe the candlelit displays of remembrance. A vigil attendee, Duane McMullen, stated, “The vigils help me to feel like maybe there is something I can do by showing support and always reminds me of how strong the Ukrainian people are; they will never give up. I stand with them all the way.” 

The Sunflower Society organizes multiple events every month, with the next coming in April. These events are exceptional for Ukrainian and American relations, especially if you want to get involved and support the war effort right here from home in Northern California. UNITED24, Open Hearts UA, and Kyiv Society for the Protection of Animals are good places to start with donations.   

5,914,000 Ukrainians are internally displaced, and another 8 million reportedly live as refugees in other countries. Funerals are daily in Kyiv now, because fighting in Bakhmut, and Kherson has become increasingly dangerous, although recently liberated from Russian occupation. Mariupol, Sievierodonetsk, Lysychansk, and more are still under Russian occupation. Most, if not all, of Russia’s military actions, have violated the Geneva Conventions and will leave scars upon the country and psyches of Ukrainian citizens for generations to come. In response; the Ukrainian people have rallied together no matter where they are, standing with an unshakable resolve to keep their home and preserve their way of life.

 On Mar. 17, Vladimir Putin was recognized by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry and the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a war criminal. They issued arrest warrants for Russian President Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, his children’s rights commissioner and confidant, for the abduction of what’s estimated to be around 16,221 Ukrainian children. More than likely traumatized and abused, these children were forced into adoption by Russian families against their will. 

Additional charges include the crimes of murder, rape, and torture of Ukrainian civilians, confirmed by the discovery of mass graves holding hundreds of bodies buried by Russian soldiers in cities like Bucha, Mariupol, and Izyum. While some bodies were service members, the majority were civilians, including some children. 

The list of Russian atrocities also includes the execution of POWs, the most prominent being Oleksandr Matsiyevsky which was filmed in horrific detail on Dec. 30, gaining political and media attention globally. In the video, moments before he is shot, the soldier says, “Slava Ukraini,” which means “Glory to Ukraine.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed to find the murderers responsible and stated that he “wanted us all in unity to respond to his words. Glory to the hero. Glory to the heroes. Glory to Ukraine.” 

Russia and the Wagner group have resorted to utilizing convicted prisoners as front line infantry due to their losses, with promises of a pardon, clean records, and reintegration into Russian society. U.N. Human Rights Officials stated, “We are deeply disturbed by reports of visits by members of the so-called Wagner Group to correctional facilities in various regions of Russia, offering pardons for criminal sentences to prisoners who join the group and take part in the war in Ukraine, as well as a monthly payment to their relatives.” Numerous human rights violations have been associated with these criminal military fighting units.

Russia has consistently targeted heavily populated urban centers in what has amounted to thousands of missile strikes in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Kherson, Odesa, Zaporizhzhia, Ravine, Zhytomyr, Vinnytsia, Poltava, and Lviv. These strikes included a theater mainly occupied by children seeking safety in Mariupol; people’s homes, office buildings, malls, hospitals, and schools. None of these are hardened military targets. In addition, Russia has deployed munitions such as the infamous hypersonic Kinzhal missile, which cannot be intercepted by conventional means, along with thousands of ballistic missiles like the Kh-55, Kh-101, Kalibur, S-300, and Iskander. Some of these repurposed missiles lack accuracy and effectiveness on hardened military targets and have been used solely to attack civilian population centers.

The foundation of Ukrainian society has been rocked to its core, yet, in the face of an attempted Russian invasion, Ukrainian defense forces repelled the primary attacks into the capital Kyiv and beyond. The war has since shifted to Russia regularly terrorizing the civilian populace with constant aerial assaults from drones and ballistic missiles. 

Russian military operations on the ground have been largely ineffective in gaining control of the country, exhausting their troops and equipment. For example, ongoing operations and U.N. sanctions have severely hindered Russia from getting enough components to build military hardware like missiles, light armored vehicles, tanks, helicopters, and jets. So far, the International Institute for Strategic Studies has reported that Russia has lost upward of 2,300 infantry fighting vehicles and 1,700 tanks, about two-thirds gone from the Russian inventory, which include the T-72B3, T-72B3M, and T-80BV. The IISS suspects that actual figures appear to be 40% higher than what is currently being reported by the Russian state.

The same can be said for Russian aircraft with losses of 15% or greater, which includes the Su-30SM, Su-34, and Su-35. In addition, Russian troop levels have been reported to be between 150,000 and 200,000 killed, wounded, or lost to some other circumstance. Russia is suspected of not accurately reporting these numbers. Problems with replacing experienced personnel with proper training has exacerbated the situation. To compensate for staggering losses at the hands of Ukrainian defenses and to offset the effects of U.N. sanctions, Russia has resorted to rampant looting of anything useful in the locations occupied by their forces. When they retreat, they leave behind a trail of waste ranging from industrial supplies to broken and sabotaged gear. 

So it’s no surprise that Russia has sought help from longtime partner nations with questionable, if not defunct, relationships with Western allies — countries such as China, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Myanmar, India, and Belarus. More countries are being actively recruited; South Africa and Mali, for example, are being considered. With Russia using its power over oil markets in the face of sanctions, countries have responded by either staying neutral to get the benefits of Russian oil or reinvesting in their own oil production. As a result, these actions have set back efforts to move away from oil dependence and combat climate change.

On the other hand, Ukrainian forces have had continuous support from western allies and have requested more to combat increasing Russian aggression. Ukraine’s military has excelled at repelling Russian forces from the majority of occupied regions and retaking them. Ukrainian forces were projected to lose much more territory, if not the entire country, showing the world true dedication and sacrifice to protect one’s home. 

Currently, the U.S. has sent 8,000 Javelins, 1,600 Stingers, 160 howitzers, 38 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, one million artillery rounds, 100,000 of 125 mm tank rounds, and 100,000 rounds for small arms. The list also includes helicopters and UAVs. In addition, there is a significant need for tanks which the White House has agreed to send along with Bradley Infantry fighting vehicles. 

“Working with European partners and Ukraine, the United States also launched the Ukraine Defense Contact Group — a coalition of 50 partner nations that has enhanced our coordination of security assistance deliveries to help the people of Ukraine as they continue to defend themselves against Russia’s unjust and unprovoked assault. Together, members of this group already committed $50 billion in security assistance, including nearly 700 tanks and thousands of other armored vehicles, more than 1000 artillery systems, more than two million rounds of artillery ammunition, more than 50 advanced multiple rocket launch systems, and anti-ship and air defense systems.” according to the White House Press Briefing: One Year of Supporting Ukraine.

Ukraine applied for EU membership on Jun. 23 last year and applied for NATO membership shortly after but has been actively pursuing this goal since 1994. Since then, a number of countries have given billions in aid, and at least 28 have given military aid. NATO partners like the UK, Germany, Canada, and Poland lead the way next to EU institutions. Yet, the U.S. is by far the largest contributor to military aid and second only to the EU in financial aid. 

The greatest concern militarily to Ukraine is obtaining modern battle tanks and subsonic jet fighters. So far, the U.S. has agreed to send the M1 Abrams, the UK to send Challenger 2 tanks, and Germany agreed to send Leopard 2 tanks. Countries like Poland said they would send their reserve Leopard 2 tanks that they received from Germany. The F-16 Falcon, most famous for its roles in the film “Iron Eagle” is the jet fighter up for consideration. A multirole fighter from the 70s, with multigenerational designs and modern hardware updates used in several U.S. wars and still in service to this day, is currently in the discussion phase.         

Upon the anniversary, the Department of Defense committed to the long-term goal of a Ukrainian victory with the White House on Feb. 24, stating, “One year ago, Russia launched its brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The United States has rallied the world in response, working with our allies and partners to provide Ukraine with critical security, economic, and humanitarian assistance and leading unprecedented efforts to impose costs on Russia for its aggression. This week, President Biden visited Kyiv, Ukraine, and Warsaw, Poland, to send a clear and powerful message that the United States will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

The Nuclear Threat

Ukraine is the home of Chernobyl, where an infamous nuclear meltdown occurred in 1986; the long-decommissioned power plant sits as a reminder of the dangers involved in maintaining a nuclear reactor and what a reactor meltdown looks like. Workers abandoned the site due to occupation by Russian forces during the invasion, who retreated after just over a month, but not before looting and disturbing a large amount of irradiated dust, increasing the area’s hot spots. Additionally, the Ukrainian power grid has been a significant target for the Russian military, with missile strikes knocking out power for millions of Ukrainian residents as well as recent strikes in Zaporizhzhya, causing the plant to operate on backup power using diesel generators.

While some cities, like Marinka, in Donetsk, have been completely destroyed and are now devoid of life, others, like Zaporizhzhya, are central to the survival of the entire country and beyond. The city supports a major nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, and this area is particularly vulnerable to battles and shelling. Russian forces are currently holding the plant, and it continues to present a high threat level should the plant be damaged beyond repair from the shelling it commonly receives or loss of power for any extended duration. 

U.N. watchdogs and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are closely monitoring the power plants developing situation. Recently the head of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, set forth plans to turn the plant and the surrounding area into a demilitarized zone. Still, it is only Russia that has stated they’re making improvements to nuclear storage and protections for the power plant.

“It is obvious that military activity is increasing in this whole region, so the place can’t be protected,” Grossi stated. At one point, the plant produced 20% of the nation’s energy, and now, the plant is no longer producing anything for Ukraine. President Zelensky has stated that Russia is using the power plant to blackmail and hold Ukraine hostage to the nuclear threat. The possibility of a nuclear accident has risen drastically since September last year and continues to be an escalating point of conflict between Ukraine and Russia. 

Now we may be at a precipice for WWIII or nuclear annihilation, with the Doomsday Clock currently sitting at 90 seconds to midnight. This escalation is, in large part, a direct result of the war in Ukraine. A consistent march toward nuclear proliferation for countries like Iran, gains in building intercontinental ballistic missiles for North Korea, and a buildup of current arsenals in countries like India, Pakistan, China, Russia, and the United States. According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, we could be facing a “third nuclear age.” Noting that the treaty between Russia and the United States, “New START,” could be on borrowed time. 

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres stated, “The world has entered a time of nuclear danger not seen since the height of the Cold War.” Biological weapons are also a very real threat on the battlefield. Anything of this nature put into use jeopardizes a fragile boundary in the conduct of war. After all, Putin directly supported President Bashar al-Assad of Syria in using chemical weapons on his own civilian populace. 

Other countries have ambitious goals; for example, China, a nuclear powerhouse, has its own plans for a possible invasion of countries like Taiwan by 2027. What happens in this war will set the stage for world powers throughout the foreseeable future, benchmarking this event for decades to come.

Debt Relief Is a Priority for Students, but Is It for the Supreme Court?

On Feb. 28, in what has become a growing movement across the country, students and teachers amassed on the steps of the Supreme Court to support legislation that would essentially cancel the student loan debt of upward of $400 billion for more than 40 million students. 

In what has become an ongoing battle within the judicial system growing in filings, proceedings, and public infamy. With organizations like The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, and a myriad of state and local governments accompanied by agencies and unions representing millions of student voices. A few conservative judges and states stand in the way of accomplishing this goal for so many. “This court should uphold the lawfulness of Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona’s plan to provide critical relief to student-loan borrowers impacted by an unprecedented pandemic,” written in an amicus curiae brief. 

Publicly there is a lot of determination and effort coming from students as debt relief addresses the hardships and challenges faced during the COVID pandemic period. A difficult time for just about everyone who lived and worked in a metropolitan or communal area; these effects are still being felt today by many as the world has been forced to adapt to what was once a killer virus with an extremely high mortality rate. Work schedules, small gatherings in close quarters, and not seeing a face in public for years still remain to be an issue today in common everyday life. 

The Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act, known as the Heroes Act, originates from the 9/11, Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom era. In 2001 the Secretary of Education was granted waiver authority to respond to national emergencies. In 2003 this authority was broadened by a bill put forth into legislation by Rep. Kline (R-MN) passed by Congress and signed into law by President George Bush to provide student debt relief for troops serving overseas. 

“Several provisions of the HEROES Act indicate that Congress intended the Act to confer broad authority under the circumstances and for the purposes specified by the Act. First, the Act grants authority notwithstanding any other provision of law, unless enacted with specific 

reference to this section. Id. § 1098bb(a)(1). Second, the Act authorizes the Secretary to waive or modify any statutory or regulatory provision applicable to the student financial assistance programs. Id. § 1098bb(a)(1), (a)(2). Third, the Act expressly authorizes the Secretary to issue such waivers and modifications as he deems necessary in connection with a war or other military operation or national emergency. Id. § 1098bb(a)(1). The Supreme Court has recognized that, in empowering a federal official to act as that official deems necessary in circumstances specified by a statute, Congress has granted the official broad discretion to take such action. This authority is not, however, boundless: it is limited, inter alia, to periods of a war, other military operation, or national emergency (id. § 1098bb(a)(1)), to certain categories of eligible individuals or institutions (id. § 1098ee(2)), and to a defined set of purposes (id.§ 1098bb(a)(2)(A)–(E)),” stated in a letter from The Department of Educations General Counsel Lisa Brown to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. 

In opposition is a clique of Republican-dominated states, Kansas, Arkansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, and South Carolina, and a cabal of individuals, represented by two Texas residents who would not fully benefit and claim to be injured parties for the purpose of a lawsuit. The Department of Education v. Brown, No. 22-535, is the case for Myra Brown, whose debt is held with the commercial industry. Alexander Taylor, who did not receive a Federal Pell Grant, is only eligible for half the relief. 

This meets the precedent of “standing,” a requirement that must be met to maintain a case against ruling in favor of student debt relief. Called “one of the nation’s most ambitious and expensive executive actions in the nation’s history,” and believed to be a violation of the separation of powers by Justice John G Roberts. That is the separation of the legislative branch, the judiciary branch, and the executive branch. Indicating that the President does not have executive authority to overreach in this judicial case that has become highly controversial.

Although in the previous administration, President Donald Trump had evoked this act during his term in office in March 2020. President Donald Trump had already declared that COVID was a national emergency and took action to pause student loan requirements.   

Furthermore, “the major questions doctrine” has been stated as being applicable in this case, which means that any initiatives with significant political consequences for millions of Americans should be decided with congressional authority. Justices Roberts and Thomas both became very focused on the exact meaning of the text when observing the word “waive,” stating that the text does not specify the waiving or cancellation of loan balances. 

In recent Supreme Court cases, this same doctrine was used to narrow and restrict the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to take any official action on climate change. A similar ruling followed soon after, again using the doctrine. This time it was restricting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from upholding a moratorium on evictions as well as standing against any requirements for employers to have their employees vaccinated.  

The administration disagreed and indicated that the HEROES Act does state this express authority previously given to the secretary of education to accomplish legislative action for this exact purpose, which is to take action on behalf of students in the face of a national emergency.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, fully supporting the president’s plan, compiled a report made up of feedback from students and organizations. Some of the organizations are the Debt Collective, NAACP, the National Young Farmers Coalition, and the United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America. The senator personally stated that “if the Supreme Court fails to apply the law as it is written and uphold Biden’s student debt plan, it’s the most vulnerable Americans who will be harmed most. It’s incumbent on her and others to push the Supreme Court to do its job and allow the president to cancel student debt.”

What is the current state of the case?

With oral arguments having ended, it is time for deliberation, which can take up to three months to reach a decision. With over 40 million students awaiting $ 20,000 worth of loan forgiveness, the Education Department sent a mass email to students reassuring them that the administration would continue to provide support. 

“Our administration is confident in our legal authority to adopt this plan, and today made clear that opponents of the program lack standing even to bring their case to court. While opponents of this program would deny relief to borrowers who need support as they get back on their feet after the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. We will continue providing updates and notify borrowers directly before payments restart. Payments will resume 60 days after the Supreme Court announces its decision. If it has not made a decision or resolved the litigation by June 30, payments will resume 60 days after that,” wrote Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. 

After observation of the loan process during the years of COVID, the warning is dire; if debt relief is not utilized there could be “a historic rise in delinquencies and defaults,” according to the Department of Education. June is the projected date for the court’s decision while millions of students across the country wait it out as their futures and quality of life hang in the balance.