The Supreme Court has struck down the Biden administration’s Covid-related eviction moratorium, writing in an unsigned, eight-page opinion that Congress must specially authorize any continued ban.
“Congress was on notice that a further extension would almost surely require new legislation, yet it failed to act in the several weeks leading up to the moratorium’s expiration,” the court wrote.
It also rejected the Biden Administration’s argument that the CDC had the power to mandate such a ban. Calling it a “decades-old statute”, the court said that it “strains credulity to believe that this statute grants the CDC the sweeping authority that it asserts.”
The Biden Administration extended the ban, despite an earlier adverse opinion from the Supreme Court, amid rising Covid infections and a slow rollout of federal relief funds.
The court took note of the current situation in its opinion but the majority still declined to support the ban. “It is indisputable that the public has a strong interest in combating the spread of the Covid-19 Delta variant. But our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends.”
The Biden Administration warned of a wave of evictions as a result of the ruling. “As a result of this ruling, families will face the painful impact of evictions, and communities across the country will face greater risk of exposure to Covid-19,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said in a statement to the New York Times.
However, the landlord community has countered that the end of the ban would not lead to mass evictions. “Nearly every mass eviction forecast is based on one tiny, experimental dataset its creators acknowledge is problematic,” according to Jay Parsons, VP and deputy chief economist at RealPage. “There’s far more solid evidence suggesting the vast majority of renters are able and willing to pay rent.”
The court also nodded to the difficulties the moratorium has caused landlords. “The moratorium has put…millions of landlords across the country, at risk of irreparable harm by depriving them of rent payments with no guarantee of eventual recovery,” the court said. “Many landlords have modest means. And preventing them from evicting tenants who breach their leases intrudes on one of the most fundamental elements of property ownership—the right to exclude.”
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