Judge strikes down federal eviction ban

CDC’s national moratorium is vacated, but state protections still apply

U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich (Senate/Chris Coons, iStock)
U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich (Senate/Chris Coons, iStock)

UPDATED May 5, 2021, 2:50 p.m.: A federal judge in the District of Columbia on Wednesday voided the nationwide moratorium on evictions.

U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich wrote in an opinion that although the pandemic is a health crisis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lacks the legal authority to ban evictions.

The order does not supersede statewide moratoriums, such as New York’s statewide ban on evictions extended by legislators Monday through Aug. 31. Likewise, a ban in California covers renters until June 30, which is when the CDC moratorium was to sunset before the judge vacated it.

In Connecticut, however, the eviction moratorium is set to expire with the end of the public health emergency on May 20. Likewise, bans In New Jersey and Illinois lapse before the federal ban would end. The sole protection for renters in Florida and many other states is the CDC moratorium, which dates back to September.

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Plaintiffs in the case were two realtor trade associations in Georgia and Alabama and two housing providers in those states who alleged that the moratorium exceeds the CDC’s authority and is “arbitrary and capricious.”

The Trump appointee’s decision comes after judges in Ohio, Tennessee and Texas ruled in March that the federal moratorium extended by the CDC was unconstitutional. Those rulings put an end to local bans, but stopped short of including an injunction forcing the CDC to revoke the ban. Friedrich applied her ruling nationally.

The Department of Justice appealed previous takedowns of the nationwide ban and tweeted Wednesday that it had done the same with Friedrich’s ruling, as well as seek a stay from the appellate court to keep the moratorium in effect until the case concludes.