A federal judge has halted the moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control that banned evictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The judge ruled that the federal organization lacks the authority to halt rental evictions across the United States over the health threat.
Amid the pandemic, the CDC placed a moratorium barring landlords and rent-seekers from evicting tenants who were unable or refused to pay their rent. The agency did so through the Public Health Services Act.
“The Court recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic is a serious public health crisis that has presented unprecedented challenges for public health officials and the nation as a whole. The pandemic has triggered difficult policy decisions that have had enormous real-world consequences. The nationwide eviction moratorium is one such decision,” read the court’s ruling, reported the Daily Wire on Wednesday.
“It is the role of the political branches, and not the courts, to assess the merits of policy measures designed to combat the spread of disease, even during a global pandemic. The question for the Court is a narrow one: Does the Public Health Service Act grant the CDC the legal authority to impose a nationwide eviction moratorium? It does not,” the court stated.
The moratorium was originally enacted by the CDC in September 2021, after former President Donald Trump signed an executive order asking the CDC to “consider whether any temporary measures halting residential evictions of any tenants for failure to pay rent are reasonably necessary to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 from one state or possession into another State or possession.”
The policy left numerous homeowners without any legal recourse to evict defaulting tenants and find new residents.
The rule was set to expire at the end of December, but Congress extended it until the end of January before it could expire. Following that, the CDC under the Biden administration further extended the policy to the end of March 2021, until it was more recently extended once again until June 2021.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has presented a historic threat to the nation’s public health,” the White House said in a press release in late March. “Keeping people in their homes and out of crowded or congregate settings—like homeless shelters—by preventing evictions is a key step in helping to stop the spread of Covid-19.”
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, “[a] series of conflicting court rulings have called into question the legality of the moratorium. At least three federal judges—in Tennessee, Ohio and Texas—have ruled the moratorium is unlawful. The Justice Department is appealing those cases.”