Supreme Court asked to keep eviction pause in place
The Biden administration, backed by nearly two dozen Democratic state attorneys general, asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to leave intact a temporary nationwide pause on evictions.
The request comes after a group of landlords asked the court last week to effectively end the eviction moratorium put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help financially distressed renters remain in their homes amid the pandemic.
In a 38-page filing, the Biden administration argued that the CDC policy is a lawful and necessary step to prevent the spread of COVID-19 across state lines, which would result from evicted tenants being forced into homeless shelters or other crowded living arrangements.
Democratic attorneys general from 22 states and Washington, D.C., backed the administration’s position Thursday in a friend of the court brief submitted to Chief Justice John Roberts, who handles D.C.-based emergency matters.
“Recognizing that the ability to stay home and quarantine is an essential part of the pandemic response, the CDC Order … has been critical in helping states limit the spread of COVID-19,” the attorneys general wrote.
The case concerns a challenge to the CDC moratorium brought by the Alabama Association of Realtors and several co-plaintiffs in federal court in D.C. That litigation has produced mixed results over the past several weeks.
The landlord group secured a legal victory last month when U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich in D.C. struck down the moratorium as a government overreach. But Friedrich, a Trump appointee, agreed to stay her ruling, preventing it from taking effect while the Biden administration appeals.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals last week declined the landlords’ request to lift the stay, prompting the group’s emergency request to the Supreme Court.
The property owners told the court in their brief that landlords have been losing $13 billion every month under the moratorium.
“[T]he total effect of the CDC’s overreach may reach up to $200 billion if it remains in effect for a year,” they wrote.
Numerous court battles have been waged over the policy’s lawfulness, creating a patchwork of interpretations across the country as property owners have sought to evict tens of thousands of cash-strapped renters.
The CDC order, which was enacted in September under former President Trump and subsequently extended by Congress and President Biden, is set to expire at the end of the month, though it’s unclear if the administration will seek to prolong it as billions in federal rental aid continues to make its way to needy tenants.
The policy permits tenants who have lost income during the pandemic to avail themselves of the federal eviction protection by declaring under penalty of perjury that they would face overcrowded conditions if evicted and that they have made their best effort to pay rent.
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