Split Supreme Court upholds rental evictions ban

Florida beach houses
Florida beach houses
Chuck Wagner via Shutterstock

A federal eviction ban will remain in effect through the end of July, following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling Tuesday.

The brief 5-4 ruling leaves in place a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) moratorium on rental evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, the CDC extended the ban through July 31, but the Biden administration has indicated no additional extensions are expected.

Realtors and landlords had challenged the CDC’s legal authority to institute the ban and had asked judges in several states to overturn the moratorium with mixed success.

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In May, Judge Dabney Friedrich of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the CDC had overstepped its authority and overturned the ban, but then stayed her order so that the case could make its way through the appeals process.

On Tuesday the majority of the Supreme Court voted not to lift Friedrich’s stay, which allowed the ban to remain in place for the next month.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that he agreed with Friedrich’s finding that the CDC exceeded its authority to set the moratorium, but said he voted to keep the ban in place in order to give the government more time to distribute rental assistance money.

Kavanaugh also wrote in the opinion that in his view any extension of a rental evictions ban beyond July 31 would require new legislation from Congress.

The CDC’s evictions moratorium was intended as a public health measure to keep people in their homes and out of crowded or group living spaces. In the order that extended the ban, the CDC said, “…This is intended to be the final extension of the moratorium.”

Both Florida and local eviction bans have expired, though other states have adopted additional moratoriums.

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