AP

Supreme Court allows evictions to resume during pandemic

Aug 26, 2021, 8:44 PM
Biden courts executive orders struck down...
FILE - In this Aug. 4, 2021, file photo, housing advocates protest on the eviction moratorium in New York. The Supreme Court is allowing evictions to resume across the United States, blocking the Biden administration from enforcing a temporary ban that was put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic. Roughly 3.5 million people in the United States said they faced eviction in the next two months, according to Census Bureau data from early August. (AP Photo/Brittainy Newman, File)
(AP Photo/Brittainy Newman, File)
 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court’s conservative majority is allowing evictions to resume across the United States, blocking the Biden administration from enforcing a temporary ban that was put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Protection ends for 3.5 million people

The court’s action late Thursday ends protections for roughly 3.5 million people in the United States who said they faced eviction in the next two months, according to Census Bureau data from early August.

The court said in an unsigned opinion that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reimposed the moratorium Aug. 3, lacked the authority to do so under federal law without explicit congressional authorization. The justices rejected the administration’s arguments in support of the CDC’s authority.

“If a federally imposed eviction moratorium is to continue, Congress must specifically authorize it,” the court wrote.

Moratorium should have remained in place

The three liberal justices dissented. Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the three, pointed to the increase in COVID-19 caused by the delta variant as one of the reasons the court should have left the moratorium in place. “The public interest strongly favors respecting the CDC’s judgment at this moment, when over 90% of counties are experiencing high transmission rates,” Breyer wrote.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration was “disappointed” by the decision and said President Joe 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.”

Another loss for the Biden administration

It was the second loss for the administration this week at the hands of the high court’s conservative majority. On Tuesday, the court effectively allowed the reinstatement of a Trump-era policy forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their hearings. The new administration had tried to end the Remain in Mexico program, as it is informally known.

On evictions, Biden acknowledged the legal headwinds the new moratorium would likely encounter. But Biden said that even with doubts about what courts would do, it was worth a try because it would buy at least a few weeks of time for the distribution of more of the $46.5 billion in rental assistance Congress had approved.

The Treasury Department said Wednesday that the pace of distribution has increased and nearly a million households have been helped. But only about 11% of the money, just over $5 billion, has been distributed by state and local governments, the department said.

The administration has called on state and local officials to “move more aggressively” in distributing rental assistance funds and urged state and local courts to issue their own moratoriums to “discourage eviction filings” until landlords and tenants have sought the funds.

State put their own ban on evictions

A handful of states, including California, Maryland and New Jersey, have put in place their own temporary bans on evictions. In a separate order earlier this month, the high court ended some protections for New York residents who had fallen behind on their rents during the pandemic.

The high court hinted strongly in late June that it would take this path if asked again to intervene. At that time, the court allowed an earlier pause on evictions to continue through the end of July.

But four conservative justices would have set the moratorium aside then and a fifth, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, said Congress would have to expressly authorize a new pause on evictions. Neither house of Congress has passed a new evictions moratorium.

The administration at first allowed the earlier moratorium to lapse July 31, saying it had no legal authority to allow it to continue. But the CDC issued a new moratorium days later as pressure mounted from lawmakers and others to help vulnerable renters stay in their homes as the coronavirus’ delta variant surged. The moratorium had been scheduled to expire Oct. 3.

Landlords in Alabama and Georgia who challenged the earlier evictions ban quickly returned to court, where they received a sympathetic hearing. U.S. Judge Dabney Friedrich, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, said the new moratorium was beyond the CDC’s authority.

But Friedrich said she was powerless to stop it because of an earlier ruling from the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., that sits above her. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit likewise refused to put the CDC order on hold, prompting the landlords’ emergency appeal to the Supreme Court.

The earlier versions of the moratorium, first ordered during Trump’s presidency, applied nationwide and were put in place out of fear that people who couldn’t pay their rent would end up in crowded living conditions like homeless shelters and help spread the virus.

The new moratorium temporarily halted evictions in counties with “substantial and high levels” of virus transmissions and would cover areas where 90% of the U.S. population lives.

The Biden administration argued that the rise in the delta variant underscored the dangers of resuming evictions in areas of high transmission of COVID-19. But that argument did not win broad support at the high court.

Today’s Top Stories

AP

TikTok shown on a phone. TikTok is proving influential in poliitics...
DAVID KLEPPER Associated Press

TikTok politics: Candidates turn to it ‘for better or worse’

TikTok isn't just about viral dance challenges anymore, but also a place to shop, learn about beauty, fashion or even politics.
3 days ago
Damage from Hurricane Ian...
ADRIANA GOMEZ-LICON Associated Press

Ian returns to hurricane status, meanwhile floods trap many in Florida

Hours after weakening to a tropical depression while crossing the Florida peninsula, Ian regained hurricane strength Thursday evening after emerging over the Atlantic Ocean.
4 days ago
An uprooted tree, toppled by strong winds from the outer bands of Hurricane Ian, rests in a parking...
CURT ANDERSON Associated Press

Ian makes landfall in southwest Florida as Category 4 storm

About 2.5 million people had been ordered to evacuate the area before the storm hit the coast on Wednesday with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph (241 kph).
5 days ago
The White House to ask for less money to fund border wall...
ACACIA CORONADO and GISELA SALOMON Associated Press

Increase in Venezuelan migration is felt across US

Last month, Venezuelans surpassed Guatemalans and Hondurans to become the second-largest nationality stopped at the U.S. border after Mexicans.
7 days ago
In Iran, protests have led to violent clashes between citizens and security forces. Protesters pict...
The Associated Press

At least 9 killed as Iran protests over woman’s death spread

The scope of Iran's ongoing unrest, the worst in several years, still remains unclear as protesters in more than a dozen cities.
10 days ago
U.S. Capitol pictured. The House just voted on an election law...
MARY CLARE JALONICK Associated Press

House passes election law overhaul in response to Jan. 6

The bill, which is similar to bipartisan legislation moving through the Senate, would overhaul an arcane 1800s-era statute known as the Electoral Count Act
11 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Supreme Court allows evictions to resume during pandemic