A federal judge in Texas ruled on Thursday that the federal eviction moratorium is unconstitutional, CNN reports.
District Judge John Barker, who was appointed by Donald Trump, said that the Centers for Disease Control cannot pause evictions. He did not issue an order to lift the moratorium but said he expects the CDC to respect the court’s ruling and withdraw it themselves.
"The federal government cannot say that it has ever before invoked its power over interstate commerce to impose a residential eviction moratorium. It did not do so during the deadly Spanish Flu pandemic. Nor did it invoke such a power during the exigencies of the Great Depression. The federal government has not claimed such a power at any point during our Nation's history until last year," Barker wrote.
Order was backed by Congress:
Congress initially imposed an eviction moratorium last spring. Trump extended the moratorium through the CDC’s public health powers when it expired and Congress later extended it further in December and Biden extended it once again in January.
Baker ruled that Congress lacked the authority to give the CDC power to halt evictions and said the moratorium may violate landlord rights under certain states’ laws.
"The CDC attempted to use COVID-19 as an opportunity to grab power and the court rightfully corrected this egregious overreach," Robert Henneke, one of the lawyers behind the lawsuit, told CNN.
It’s unclear if the Biden administration will appeal the ruling.
More than 10 million renters are at risk of eviction, according to a Census Bureau survey, and 16 million may face eviction after expressing concerns that they would not be able to pay rent in February.
The CDC order allowed tenants to seek relief if they earn less than $100,000 per year, have experienced significant loss of income, and have made efforts to pay their rent.