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Supreme Court Leaves Covid Eviction Moratorium in Effect (1)

June 29, 2021, 11:29 PM

A divided U.S. Supreme Court refused to lift the federal moratorium on evictions during the Covid-19 outbreak, leaving the ban in place until the end of July.

Voting 5-4, the justices rejected calls by landlords and real-estate trade associations from Alabama and Georgia to block the moratorium while their challenge goes forward. They contend the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention exceeded its authority by imposing the ban.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the court’s three liberals in the majority. Kavanaugh cast the pivotal vote, saying he was letting the ban stay in effect even though he thought the CDC had exceeded its power.

“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,” Kavanaugh wrote.

Kavanaugh said he would require congressional authorization to extend the ban beyond July 31, something the CDC has said it doesn’t intend to do.

The other eight justices gave no explanation. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett said they would have blocked the moratorium.

Read More: Biden to Put $46 Billion Into Effort to Avoid Flood of Evictions

A federal trial judge ruled that the moratorium exceeded the CDC’s authority but then put a stay on the ruling while the government appealed. The challengers then asked the Supreme Court to lift the stay.

The ban applies to tenants who, if evicted, would have “no other available housing options.” The CDC and President Joe Biden’s administration say the moratorium is geared toward protecting tenants who would be forced to live in close quarters elsewhere or become homeless and dependent on shelters.

The CDC moratorium was put in place by former President Donald Trump’s administration and extended under Biden. It had been set to expire June 30 before the CDC announced what it said was a final, one-month extension on June 24.

The case is Alabama Association of Realtors v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 20A169.

(Updates with excerpt from Kavanaugh opinion, in fourth paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story:
Greg Stohr in Washington at gstohr@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Elizabeth Wasserman at ewasserman2@bloomberg.net

John Harney

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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