The US Supreme Court on Thursday ended the President's Joe Biden's eviction moratorium. The Court blocked the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) from enforcing a federal moratorium on residential evictions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Court allowed the request of the challengers including the landlords and real estate groups to lift the moratorium imposed by CDC that was to run till October 3.
The CDC at first issued the moratorium in September 2020 after an earlier one passed by Congress was about to be expire. The officials of the agency were of the view that such a policy was needed to combat the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and also to prevent homelessness.
President Biden stated that he was under pressure from the Democrats for issuing a new moratorium and for which he directed CDC to impose another one in August, claiming that the new version was different as it was applicable only in those counties with a high rate of Coronavirus transmission.
The challengers contended that the law on which CDC relied upon did not permit it to implement the present ban. To which the Supreme Court observed –
"It strains credulity to believe that this statute grants the CDC the sweeping authority that it asserts,"
The landlords contended that they were losing as much as $19 billion in a month and argued that "Congress never gave the CDC the staggering amount of power it claims," before the Court.
The Court asserted that "If a federally imposed eviction moratorium is to continue, the Congress must specifically authorize it."
The Court's three liberals - Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan dissented from Thursday's order holding "While individual landlords said they have lost thousands of dollars in rental income, Congress has appropriated more than $46.5 billion to help pay back rent."
Liberal Justice Breyer opined "Compare that injury to the irreparable harm" from blocking the moratorium. He believed that the Court was not justified in ending the moratorium so quickly at a time when Covid-19 is on the spread.
The question of the CDC's authority is an important one, and shouldn't be dealt with in such a summary fashion, especially given "how little we may presume to know about the course of this pandemic," Breyer held.
The Court in June had signaled that the Government's action of imposing moratorium lacked legal proper legal basis and such a policy must be backed by Congress rather than being imposed unilaterally by the executive branch.