On Thursday (August 26), the Supreme Court blocked President Joe Biden’s eviction moratorium, which will allow property owners to begin the process of evicting millions of Americans behind on their rent because of the coronavirus pandemic.
USA Today reports that the court, over a dissent from the three liberal justices, ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not have the authority to impose the rent freeze.
"It would be one thing if Congress had specifically authorized the action that the CDC has taken," the majority opinion reads. "But that has not happened. Instead, 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 it asserts."
Associate Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the dissenting opinion that the court should not have set aside the moratorium on an expedited basis.
"Applicants raise contested legal questions about an important federal statute on which the lower courts are split and on which this court has never actually spoken," Breyer wrote. "These questions call for considered decision making, informed by full briefing and argument. Their answers impact the health of millions."
Real estate groups in Georgia and Alabama told the high court that Biden’s rent freeze caused significant financial hardship and required them to pay expenses while not receiving income from some of their tenants.
The court’s ruling only dealt with whether the moratorium would continue on a temporary basis. The CDC’s moratorium had been set to expire in early October with a legal fight over its merits would almost certainly take months, if not years.
The ruling won’t likely lead to renters being removed immediately, but it will allow property owners to begin eviction proceedings. Previously, they were unable to do so.
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