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The US Supreme Court has blocked the Biden administration The order to extend the federal eviction moratorium to a wide swath of the country, in a decision that both legal researchers and the White House expected.
The ban on evictions, by order of two months Released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The halt covers parts of the United States experiencing what the CDC calls a “significant” and “high” spread of the coronavirus.
The Unsigned decision From the court it was 6-3, with three Liberal Justices opposing.
The majority of the court said the CDC had overstepped its authority with the temporary ban.
The majority opinion says the CDC in its order relied on “decades-old law authorizing it to implement measures such as fumigation and pest eradication.”
“It is naive to think that this law gives the CDC the blanket authority to assert,” the majority wrote, adding, “If the federally imposed moratorium on evictions continues, Congress must specifically authorize it.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration was “disappointed” with the decision.
“As a result of this ruling, families will face the dire impact of evictions, and communities across the country will face greater risks of exposure to COVID-19,” she said in a statement.
Thursday’s decision was written roughly in June when the Supreme Court, in its 5-4 decision, issued Previously authorized by the CDC. At the time, Judge Brett Kavanaugh sided with the majority but wrote that he did so because the suspension was due to expire in a few weeks on July 31.
At that time, it was also Kavanaugh, who cast his fifth and decisive vote books He voted not to end the eviction program, “because those few weeks will allow for an additional, more orderly distribution” of money that Congress has appropriated to provide rental assistance to those in need due to the pandemic.
But Kavanaugh said that in his view Congress would have to pass new and more explicit legislation to extend the moratorium last July. And despite last-minute efforts in Congress to do so, lawmakers had no votes.
slow delivery of aid
Congress has approved nearly $50 billion to help people pay rent and avoid eviction. But while in some states and counties this has worked well, in many others Help did not arrive The vast majority of tenants who need it.
by 1 rating, 15 states so far haven’t even been able to get 5% of those federal dollars for renters facing eviction.
With the delta variable of COVID on the rise in many parts of the country, the CDC issued a limited eviction moratorium through October 3.
This latest court decision comes about three weeks after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued that protection.
“Without this order, evictions in this [higher transmission] The CDC’s order said areas would likely exacerbate the increase in cases, adding: “COVID-19 vaccination efforts have a slower rate of penetration in populations that are more likely to be evacuated.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) moratorium has protected many from eviction. more than 7 million people They are still behind on rent in the wake of the pandemic-related shutdowns.
“Nationally, we have twice the number of normal people who can’t pay rent,” says Peter Hepburn, a researcher in the Eviction Lab at Princeton University. But he says the CDC order was protecting many of them.
“Over the past 11 months, while the moratorium on evictions has been in effect, we estimate that there have been 1.5 million fewer evictions than normal,” Hepburn says. “This has really helped to keep an extraordinary number of families in their homes.”
Back and forth on Capitol Hill
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s latest move to amend and extend a federal eviction order after a week in which the stay became a political football in Washington. After Congress failed to extend it beyond July 31, this led to Democratic and progressive congressional leaders Biden’s call for an extension of the moratorium Until October 18.
But on August 2, Gene Sperling, who is overseeing the start of the White House’s implementation of coronavirus relief, said Biden had “goed through a double, triple and quadruple check” on whether he could extend the unilateral eviction moratorium, but decided that was not possible.
Sperling countered criticism from Democrats on Capitol Hill who said the White House should have acted sooner to extend the eviction moratorium. He noted that the Supreme Court had made it clear that there was a need for “congressional authorization” on the matter.
The White House also asserted that the CDC “was unable to find legal authority to” halt a new eviction, until Biden called on states and localities to halt evictions For at least the next two months.
In statements to reporters earlier this month, Biden himself predicted the legal challenges the moratorium would face, saying, “Any call for comment based on the latest Supreme Court decision is likely to face obstacles.”
This is what happened on Thursday.
Housing groups have warned that pulling the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) evacuation protections away from people before congressional aid reached them would lead to a wave of avoidable evictions. The owners have long argued that the CDC order was overreaching and that the agency did not have the ability, in fact, to control their property.
At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Congress adopted a limited temporary moratorium on evictions. After the moratorium expired last July, then-President Donald Trump asked the CDC to step in and issue a new eviction ban, which it did in September. In March, Biden extended that ban, which expired at the end of June. Then on June 24, the Biden administration most dangerous The Supreme Court had extended the moratorium until July 31. She also said that except for a spike in coronavirus cases, “the CDC does not plan to extend the order any further.”
“The course of the pandemic has since changed — unexpectedly, dramatically, and for the worse,” the Biden administration wrote in the case file before the Supreme Court, noting a nearly 10-fold increase in new daily COVID cases.
Some housing legal experts say the case exposes the new nature of the Supreme Court with its three conservative justices confirmed during the Trump administration.
“Some people might say it’s a more conservative court because they want to see it as a dual court,” says Shamus Roller, executive director of the National Housing Act Project. “But what a more radical court this is. It is a court willing to disregard the law to get the outcome they want on this particular case.”
Roller says the fact that Congress itself voted for an earlier extension of the CDC order as part of its COVID relief legislation should have been enough to satisfy the court regarding Congress’ intent regarding the CDC’s authority to enforce the moratorium — the central issue in the case.
Although the group of landlords that brought the case argued that the CDC had overstepped its authority and that the suspension was collectively costing landlords billions of dollars each month.
Housing groups say it is now critical that programs across the country distributing the $50 billion from Congress get more money out for renters more quickly. They say that if the owners see the process is working, they will be more patient and will postpone the evictions.
But in places where the distribution of rent subsidies remains in shambles, they say more landlords will lose confidence and decide that evictions are their best option.