White House praises ruling on eviction ban, says more proceedings 'likely'

The White House celebrated a ruling by a federal judge Friday rejecting a request to block the new eviction moratorium from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) while acknowledging that further proceedings are "likely."

"The Administration believes that CDC's new moratorium is a proper use of its lawful authority to protect the public health. We are pleased that the district court left the moratorium in place, though we are aware that further proceedings in this case are likely," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

"The President continues to call on State and local elected officials and judges to issue local eviction moratoriums and move aggressively to distribute the $46.5 billion in emergency rental assistance funds that are available through the bipartisan COVID relief act that Congress passed in December 2020, and through the President's American Rescue Plan that was enacted in March 2021," Psaki said.

Biden is also calling on landlords to seek rental assistance and "not evict tenants from their homes," Psaki added.

U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, a Trump appointed-federal judge in Washington, D.C., rejected a request from a group of landlords to block the latest CDC freeze on evictions, which is set to extend into early October.

Friedrich ruled in May that an earlier version of the Biden administration's eviction moratorium was illegal. The question before the federal judge this time around was whether she should follow the ruling of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals or another from the Supreme Court on the issue. The Supreme Court upheld the CDC's previous moratorium at the end of June but indicated that an extension beyond the earlier July 31 deadline would be outside the agency's constitutional authority without action from Congress.

Friedrich wrote in Friday's opinion that the appellate ruling had "tied" the court's hands. 

"It is true that the Supreme Court's recent decision in this case strongly suggests that the CDC is unlikely to succeed on the merits," Friedrich wrote. "But the (District) Court's hands are tied. The Supreme Court did not issue a controlling opinion in this case, and circuit precedent provides that the votes of dissenting Justices may not be combined with that of a concurring Justice to create binding law."

The new moratorium was issued earlier this month and applies to counties experiencing significant levels of spread of COVID-19, after the White House came under enormous pressure from many on the left to extend the moratorium after it lapsed on July 31.

President Biden has acknowledged the moratorium may not hold up in court. He told reporters earlier this month that he consulted a number of constitutional scholars on the question before his administration issued the new moratorium.