Federal judge Dabney Friedrich of the US District Court for the District of Columbia has struck down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moratorium on evictions. The moratorium was first enacted last year and most recently extended by President Biden until June 30.
The judge ruled that the administration had exceeded its authority with the moratorium through its use of the Public Health Service Act of 1944.
“The question for the court is a narrow one: Does the Public Health Service Act grant the C.D.C. the legal authority to impose a nationwide eviction moratorium?” the judge wrote.
“It does not.”
Other courts have come to similar conclusions and Friedrich is making the argument that the decision should be applied nationwide, as opposed to the other court decisions that have only applied to specific jurisdictions.
However, the true ramifications of the ruling will be unclear as the US Justice Department has said it is appealing and will seek an emergency order to put the judge’s decision on hold, according to Reuters.
Evictions “exacerbate the spread of COVID-19,” and the moratorium “protects many renters who cannot make their monthly payments due to job loss or healthcare expenses,” Brian Boynton, acting assistant attorney general for the department’s civil division, said in a statement.
The apartment industry has protested the moratorium since its inception on similar grounds. “The ruling from US District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich further demonstrates the unlawful nature of this policy and reinforces just how far the CDC overstepped their authority—the CDC does not have the authority to dictate operations of state courts,” National Apartment Association CEO Bob Pinneagar said in emailed comments. “The government must end enforcement of the CDC order and begin communications now to stakeholders, including judges, to prepare them for its ending.”