James Rodney Gilstrap, during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Texas. July 27, 2011. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL.

A group of 19 Democratic state attorneys general filed a lawsuit in federal court Thursday to stop the Trump administration’s rollback of an Obama-era regulationintended to protect student loan borrowers.

Led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, 18 states and the District of Columbia allege that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ decision to delay and eventually replace the so-called “borrower defense” rule violates the Administrative Procedure Act, because the department did not engage in a public notice and comment process in making the decision. Thursday’s lawsuit was filed in the district court in D.C., though Healey warned of the looming legal fight last month. The rule was supposed to go into effect July 1.

“Since day one, Secretary DeVos has sided with for-profit school executives against students and families drowning in unaffordable student loans,” Healey said in a statement. “Her decision to cancel vital protections for students and taxpayers is a betrayal of her office’s responsibility and a violation of federal law. We call on Secretary DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education to restore these rules immediately.”

The other state plaintiffs are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and the District of Columbia. The states asked the court to order the department to implement the rule.

A spokesperson for DeVos said she is reviewing the lawsuit and has no comment at this time.

This battle has been brewing for weeks. DeVos said in May that she was reviewing the rule. In June, the Education Department announced an implementation delay due to a lawsuit brought by the California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools, an association of for-profit institutions. Healey and other states had also filed a motion to intervene in that lawsuit to defend the rule.

In the latest lawsuit, the attorneys general accused the Education Department of being dishonest about why the delay was issued.

“Both the language of the delay notice and the circumstances of its announcement belie this rationale and make clear that the department’s reference to the pending litigation is a mere pretext for repealing the rule and replacing it with a new rule that will remove or dilute student rights and protections,” the lawsuit said.

Finalized last year under President Barack Obama, the rule would have made it easier for defrauded student loan borrowers to seek debt forgiveness. They also would have barred schools from requiring students to privately arbitrate claims rather than bring them in federal court.

The lawsuit is only the latest legal hurdle for President Donald Trump in his efforts to cull or rescind Obama-era regulations. On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt’s 90-day delay of an emissions rule was illegal and ordered the administration to implement the regulation.