The U.S. Supreme Court ended the pandemic-related federal moratorium on residential evictions imposed by President Biden’s administration. This eight-page decision effectively ends a debate that has divided party lines for months now during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ruling came down in a 6-3 decision, the court similarly divided along party and ideological lines.
The eviction moratorium was declared by Congress at the start of the pandemic. However, Congress’s moratorium expired in July 2020. The CDC then extended it by issuing a series of moratoriums under a 1944 law. The moratorium has consistently been extended, giving tenants and homeowners an opportunity to remain in their homes.
Landlords have consistently fought the moratorium, arguing that the longer it has been extended, the more they have suffered financially without any legal recourse.
The majority opinion stated that they believe the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) exceeded their authority. They claim the CDC has relied on a statute that is decades-old that authorizes the CDC to implement emergency measures, such as fumigation and pest extermination, not a nationwide months-long moratorium on evictions.
The most recent decision will now put thousands of tenants at risk of losing their homes. The Biden administration has worked to issue federal aid to assist in helping tenants who are behind on their rent, but these aid packages continue to be delayed.
The court’s dissenting opinion, authored by Justice Stephen Breyer, warned that a decision of this magnitude should not be done in a summary proceeding and required a full briefing before the court. However, the majority opinion argued that, even in a summary proceeding, the court fully considered all facts and believed the issues were straightforward. The majority argued that if a federally imposed eviction moratorium is needed, it is up to the legislative branch to authorize it, not the executive branch.
Following the court’s decision, the Biden administration issued a statement, warning of the effects of this ruling.
The White House press secretary issued the following written statement in response to the decision: “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.” Now that this decision has been issued, local courts are waiting for what is expected to be an influx of eviction cases flooding the courts.
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