A federal judge on Wednesday overturned the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s federal eviction moratorium, CNN reports.
Washington DC Judge Dabney Friedrich ruled that the CDC overstepped its authority and wrote that the Public Health Service Act does not give the agency the power to impose an eviction moratorium.
The moratorium was scheduled to end on June 30. It’s unclear what will happen now, though the Justice Department is appealing a similar ruling in Texas.
The CDC moratorium was first introduced under the Trump administration, citing the CDC’s authority to "to take measures that are reasonably necessary to mitigate the spread of communicable disease.”
"Congress has delegated broad authority to (the Department of Health and Human Services), the Surgeon General and CDC, to take reasonable efforts to combat the spread of communicable diseases, and frankly I think it makes sense for those authorities abroad because we don't know for any given situation or scenario what steps will be needed to stop the spread," an administration official told reporters at the time. "The home has been sort of the focal point of people social distancing and building sort of a safe space for themselves over the past few months."
The CDC later extended the ban in March.
Nearly 11 million Americans are currently behind on rent, according to a recent report.
Judge rejects CDC argument:
"The Court recognizes that the Covid-19 pandemic is a serious public health crisis that has presented unprecedented challenges for public health officials and the nation as a whole. The pandemic has triggered difficult policy decisions that have had enormous real-world consequences. The nationwide eviction moratorium is one such decision," Friedrich wrote in her opinion.
"It is the role of the political branches, and not the courts, to assess the merits of policy measures designed to combat the spread of disease, even during a global pandemic," she added. "The question for the Court is a narrow one: Does the Public Health Service Act grant the CDC the legal authority to impose a nationwide eviction moratorium? It does not."
Housing advocates sound alarm:
"The DOJ should immediately appeal the flawed ruling and the Biden administration should continue to vigorously defend and enforce the moratorium, at least until emergency rental assistance provided by Congress reaches the renters who need it to remain stably housed," Diane Yentel, CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said after the ruling.
The ruling comes as renters have piled up an estimated $57 billion in back rent.
Congress approved $25 billion in rental assistance in December and another $27 billion in March.