Supreme Court Leaves Pandemic Eviction Moratorium in Place
Photo by Ian Hutchinson via Unsplash
The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to keep the extended eviction moratorium set by the CDC on June 24.
Earlier in June,the Alabama Association of Realtors (AAR) submitted an application to Chief Justice John G. Roberts, requesting the Supreme Court vacate the stay, or lift the ban on evictions, extended by the CDC a month past the original expiration date.
“Every day the stay remains in place, applicants’ property continues to unlawfully occupied and their rental income continues to be unlawfully cut off,” said the AlabamaAssociation of Realtors in their application. “Nine months of overreach is enough. This Court should vacate the stay.”
They go on to express their grievances at the use of a rarely used statute from 1944 by the CDC to prevent the eviction of tenants who are behind on their rent in order to protect citizens from homelessness and the spread of disease during a pandemic.
At the start of the pandemic, Congress granted a temporary ban on evictions as a measure to promote quarantine until July. Once the original moratorium lapsed and it became clear the pandemic had not yet subsided, the Trump administration asked the CDC to step in.
The CDC set an agency order last year in September under Sec. 361 of the Public Services Health Care Act, halting evictions from then until Dec. 31. The moratorium was expanded again to last until June 30.
On June 24, the CDC released a press statement to accompany a final moratorium extension reading “CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has signed an extension to the eviction moratorium further preventing the eviction of tenants who are unable to make rental payments. The moratorium that was scheduled to expire on June 30, 2021 is now extended through July 31, 2021 and this is intended to be the final extension of the moratorium.” The final expansion, now to July 31, was the final straw for the AAR.
By shifting the end of eviction bans, the AAR noted that the CDC had “shifted the pandemic’s financial burdens from the nation’s 30 to 40 million renters to its 10 to 11 million landlords— most of whom, like applicants, are individuals and small businesses—resulting in over $13 billion in unpaid rent per month.”
The AAR’s application to vacate the stay was denied by the Supreme Court on June 29. In a short concurring opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that, although he agrees that the Department of Health and Human services has exceeded the limitations of its power with the extensions on eviction bans, it would be impractical to fight something set to end so soon regardless.
“Because the CDC plans to end the moratorium in only a few weeks, on July 31, and because those few weeks will allow for additional and more orderly distribution of the congressionally appropriated rental assistance funds, I vote at this time to deny the application to vacate the District Court’s stay of its order,“ wrote Kavanaugh.
He does warn, however, that the CDC would need ‘clear and specific’ congressional authorization to extend the moratorium again.
Scriberr reached out to the Alabama Association of Realtors, multiple Alabama landlords, and multiple Alabama tenants. None have responded by publication deadline.