The Biden administration is appealing a federal judge’s ruling that strikes down the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s moratorium on evictions.
On Wednesday, Judge Dabney Friedrich of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the CDC had exceeded its authority when it extended the moratorium.
“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 wrote. “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.”
The Department of Justice has appealed the ruling, a spokesman has confirmed, and Judge Friedrich has agreed to put her ruling on hold until May 12 to give landlords time to file legal papers opposing a longer delay.
“The CDC’s eviction moratorium — which Congress extended last December and the CDC later extended through June 30, 2021 — protects many renters who cannot make their monthly payments due to job loss or health care expenses,” Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Brain Boynton said in a statement. ”
“Scientific evidence shows that evictions exacerbate the spread of COVID-19, which has already killed more than half a million Americans, and the harm to the public that would result from unchecked evictions cannot be undone.”
Boynton continued, “The Department of Justice respectfully disagrees with today’s decision of the district court in Alabama Association of Realtors v. HHS concluding that the moratorium exceeds CDC’s statutory authority to protect public health. In the department’s view, that decision conflicts with the text of the statute, Congress’s ratification of the moratorium, and the rulings of other courts.