Eviction Ban Survives First Court Challenge

A judge blasted the CDC’s eviction ban, but left it in place on a technicality

Woman Packing to Move

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The federal eviction moratorium survived its first legal battle Friday, barely, but more battles are likely. 

The Centers for Disease Control’s eviction ban got a new lease on life when D.C. District Court Judge Dabney L. Friedrich rejected a plea by the Alabama Association of Realtors and other property groups to stop the moratorium from being enforced. In her ruling, Friedrich said she would have halted the moratorium, but that her “hands were tied” due to a technicality.

The CDC’s latest eviction ban was imposed Aug. 3 after a previous ban expired July 31, and, like the previous one, is intended to slow the spread of the pandemic. Unlike the earlier ban, however, this one is not nationwide but only covers areas where the CDC sees “substantial” or “high” spread of the virus—about 92% of U.S. counties as of Friday. 

The previous moratorium faced similar legal challenges, and the Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the CDC had overstepped its bounds. President Joe Biden, after asking the CDC to impose a new moratorium, said that whether or not it proved to be constitutional, it would take some time to litigate. That would give financially struggling renters a longer window to take advantage of a massive $47 billion rent relief program that got off to a slow start

In seeking to have the moratorium tossed out, the plaintiffs contended that the new order was virtually identical to the old one, so the Supreme Court’s ruling should apply to it, too—an argument Friedrich agreed with. 

In response to Friday’s ruling, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that further court battles were likely, and she renewed a call for state and local officials managing the Emergency Rental Assistance program to distribute aid quickly.

Have a question, comment, or story to share? You can reach Diccon at dhyatt@thebalance.com.

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