On Thursday, the United States Supreme Court once again ruled unfavorably for the Biden administration’s eviction moratorium. In an overwhelming 6-3 decision, the Court determined the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is not authorized to make such implementations.
Earlier this month the CDC issued an eviction moratorium to cover counties with “high” or “substantial” COVID-19 numbers. The coverage “as of Wednesday, included the vast majority of counties in the U.S.” and “the order was issued after a previous nationwide moratorium instituted during the Trump administration expired on July 31.”
In an unsigned opinion, the Court majority wrote, “It would be one thing if Congress had specifically authorized the action that the CDC has taken. But that has not happened.” Additionally, “the CDC has imposed a nationwide moratorium on evictions in reliance on a decades-old statute that authorizes it to implement measures like fumigation and pest extermination.”
“It strains credulity to believe that this statute grants the CDC the sweeping authority that is asserts” the Court opinion continued. The Court’s majority opinion was referencing the statute section 361(a) of the Public Health Service Act used by the CDC in its justification. The Court says the statute does not in fact grant the sweeping authority to the CDC to halt evictions.
Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the dissenting opinion, signed by fellow liberal Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, claiming “it is far from ‘demonstrably’ clear that the CDC lacks the power to issue its modified moratorium order.”
Even President Biden himself admitted weeks ago that the moratorium would likely be struck down. “The bulk of the constitutional scholars say it’s not likely to pass constitutional muster…But at a minimum, by the time it gets litigated, it will probably give some additional time while we’re getting that $45 billion out to people who are in fact behind in the rent and don’t have the money.”