In an unsigned opinion released Thursday, the Supreme Court lifted the Biden administration’s latest moratorium on evictions, declaring that it is almost certain the Centers for Disease Control exceeded their authority by imposting it.
The conservative majority sided with the Alabama Association of Realtors who argued that imposing such a moratorium requires congressional action, which is the position Justice Brett Kavanaugh took in his June, 2021 ruling on the issue.
At least 11 million renters are considered seriously delinquent on payments, and an estimated 3.6 million households could face evictions in the coming months.
“It would be one thing if Congress had specifically authorized the action that the CDC has taken,” the Court’s 8-page opinion states. “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 results weren’t a surprise to the White House. “The bulk of the constitutional scholars say it’s not likely to pass constitutional muster,” Biden said when he imposed the new moratorium on August 3.
But not every legal expert agrees. National Housing Law Project executive director Shamus Roller argued that Congress has already sufficiently signalled intent by voting for an earlier extension of the CDC order as part of its COVID relief legislation, alleging that the court is “willing to ignore the law to get the outcome that they want around this particular case.”
Experts have disagreed on the number of evictions they expect to see after the moratorium’s end. Many states, including California, Oregon, New York, Georgia, Massachusetts, Texas, and Washington, have local eviction moratoriums in place that will continue to protect delinquent renters.
Following the ruling, President Biden called on local governments to continue implementing their own bans. “President Biden is once again calling on all entities that can prevent evictions – from cities and states to local courts, landlords, cabinet agencies – to urgently act to prevent evictions,” saidHouse press Secretary Jen Psaki.