Supreme Court blocks Federal eviction moratorium

cori bush eviction moratoriuim

Millions who were promised relief by the eviction moratorium were stunned by the Supreme Court’s decision to block President Biden’s freeze on evictions, throwing renters’ safety net into doubt during a global pandemic. The SCOTUS granted a bid brought forth by a group of landlords, who pressed forward with claims that the eviction moratorium should not be legally recognized.

The SCOTUS, which has three justices nominated by twice-impeached former President Donald Trump, disagreed with the Biden administration’s temporary support for renters. In a landmark ruling that was unsigned, the Court stated that the coalition of landlords “makes clear that the applicants are virtually certain to succeed on the merits of their argument that the CDC has exceeded its authority.”

Notably, the justices placed the blame squarely on the Center for Disease Control (CDC), rather than address the Biden administration directly, and reiterated that Congress must vote on an eviction moratorium rather than accept the organization’s mandate. 

Court strikes down hard-fought eviction ban

The news comes weeks after Missouri Congresswoman Cori Bush led a successful protest against the end of the moratorium on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

Representative Bush was laser-focused on supporting the millions of Americans who are affected by the pandemic, including those who have lost their jobs and homes. The freshman representative in Congress went so far as to sleep outside on the steps of the U.S. Capitol for five days to highlight the plight of residents facing eviction and potential homelessness.

The court noted, “It would be one thing if Congress had specifically authorized the action that the CDC has taken. 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.”

The three more progressive justices on the Court, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kalgan, and Stephen Breyer, dissented on the ruling. 

Majority of rental assistance funds haven’t been disbursed

The eviction moratorium, which was extended from July 31 to the beginning of October, has had widespread support by Democrats.

Now renters face questions about their future. While Congress authorized $46 billion in rental assistance through the two Covid19 relief packages, the process has faced political bottlenecks, with only $5 billion distributed so far. 

The Biden administration, which was aware that the legality of the temporary eviction moratorium stood on shaky ground, was nevertheless disappointed by the ruling. White House press secretary Jen Psaki stated, “families will face the painful impact of evictions, and communities across the country will face greater risk of exposure to COVID-19.”

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