Supreme Court leaves CDC eviction moratorium intact

The Supreme Court on Tuesday left intact a nationwide pause on evictions put in place amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 5-4 vote rejected an emergency request from a group of landlords asking the court to effectively end the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) eviction moratorium, which is set to run through July.

The landlord group had asked the justices to lift the stay on a ruling by a federal judge in Washington, D.C., that the moratorium amounted to an unlawful government overreach.

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But Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughSenators denounce protest staged outside home of Justice Kavanaugh Why isn't Harris leading the charge against the Texas abortion law? Cori Bush introduces legislation aimed at expanding access to emergency rental assistance funds MORE joined with the court’s three liberals to keep the stay in place.

“Because the CDC plans to end the moratorium in only a few weeks, on July 31, and because those few weeks will allow for additional and more orderly distribution of the congressionally appropriated rental assistance funds, I vote at this time to deny the application to vacate the District Court’s stay of its order,” Kavanaugh wrote in brief concurrence. 

Yet Kavanaugh also said he agreed with the federal judge’s determination that the CDC had exceeded its authority in enacting the moratorium.

Four of the court’s more conservative justices, Clarence ThomasClarence ThomasClarence Thomas warns against 'destroying our institutions,' defends the Supreme Court Supreme Court returning to courtroom for arguments The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Supreme Court lets Texas abortion law stand MORE, Samuel AlitoSamuel AlitoThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Supreme Court lets Texas abortion law stand Biden rips 'extreme' new Texas abortion law Six-week abortion ban goes into effect in Texas MORE, Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchCan Biden defend his vaccine mandate? The 'nondelegation doctrine' may be the challenge The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Supreme Court lets Texas abortion law stand Supreme Court could undermine freedom of the press MORE and Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettNew Hampshire state representative leaves GOP over opposition to vaccine mandate Barrett: Supreme Court 'not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks' To infinity and beyond: What will it take to create a diverse and representative judiciary? MORE, indicated that they would have lifted the stay and allowed the ruling from U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, a Trump appointee, to take effect while the Biden administration appeals. 

The CDC order was enacted in September under then-President TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE and subsequently extended by Congress and President BidenJoe BidenTrump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race On The Money: Democrats get to the hard part Health Care — GOP attorneys general warn of legal battle over Biden's vaccine mandate MORE. Most recently, the Biden administration last week announced a one-month extension, through July, which is expected to be the final extension of the protections.

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Kavanaugh, in his concurrence, said he believes Congress would need to pass new legislation for the CDC to lawfully push the moratorium past July 31.

The federal moratorium allows tenants who have lost income during the pandemic to protect themselves from eviction by declaring under penalty of perjury that they have made their best effort to pay rent and would face overcrowded conditions if evicted.

The extended protections come as landlords and property owners have sought to evict tens of thousands of cash-strapped renters from their homes and as federal rental aid continues to make its way to needy tenants.

Some state governments, which bear responsibility for distributing more than $45 billion in federally funded rental assistance, have been slow to make disbursements.

The eviction pause has faced numerous legal challenges, which have led to a patchwork of legal interpretations nationwide on the moratorium's lawfulness.

The landlord group that filed the emergency petition to the justices, led by the Alabama Association of Realtors, had asked the court to take up the matter in part to resolve the inconsistent legal rulings across the country. They also said in their court brief that property owners have lost $13 billion each month under the eviction freeze.