A federal judge who previously struck down the CDC’s eviction ban suggested the White House lacked the legal authority to issue its new targeted eviction moratorium in a hearing Monday.
U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich held the hearing after a group of realtors and property managers challenged the new eviction moratorium, which was adopted on August 3. Friedrich didn’t make a ruling on the challenge but hopes to do so soon, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Friedrich previously ruled in May that the CDC’s eviction moratorium didn’t pass legal muster. It remained in place pending litigation, however, and narrowly survived a Supreme Court challenge before expiring at the end of July.
In a brief statement, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that a new moratorium would require congressional approval, which did not happen. After Democratic lawmakers failed to rally sufficient support for an extension prior to its July 31 expiration, the White House unilaterally issued a new moratorium. Nevertheless, Friedrich expressed doubt about her ability to block the new moratorium.
Biden himself has noted the potential legal problem of the new moratorium, which covers an estimated 90 percent of renters in the U.S.. The administration hopes that it will buy time for the distribution of $47 billion in federal aid, which has still largely not found its ways to landlords and tenants.
“None of these justices gave their reasoning, so we don’t know exactly what they thought,” Judge Friedrich said in the hearing Monday, suggesting that the White House had engaged in “a degree of gamesmanship” in pushing through the extension this month.
The National Association of Realtors is supporting the challenge to the new moratorium, which could have more support than it would have a month or two ago given the rise of the Delta variant. An estimated 3.6 million renters were considered to be in danger of eviction when the previous moratorium expired.
Local moratoriums in some states, such as New Jersey and New York, remain in place.
[WSJ] — Holden Walter-Warner