WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, the United States Supreme Court threw out the Biden Administration’s nationwide ban on evictions related to financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, effectively ending the program immediately and opening the floodgates on millions of possible evictions across the country due to nonpayment of rent.
The Supreme Court’s ruling maintained that the Biden Administration did not have the authority to extend the eviction moratorium – which was originally enacted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent homelessness during the pandemic – without Congressional action.
“If a federally imposed eviction moratorium is to continue,” Thursday’s ruling declared in response to a lawsuit filed by landlords in Alabama and Georgia, “Congress must specifically authorize it.”
Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Breyer – all liberals – dissented from the ruling.
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The Biden Administration expressed disappointment in the Court’s ruling, with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stating Thursday that it was vital to keep the eviction moratorium in-place due to the Delta variant of COVID-19 spiking infection rates across the country.
“The Biden administration is disappointed that the Supreme Court has blocked the most recent CDC eviction moratorium while confirmed cases of the delta variant are significant across the country,” Psaki said. “As a result of this ruling, families will face the painful impact of evictions, and communities across the country will face greater risk of exposure to COVID-19. In light of the Supreme Court ruling and the continued risk of COVID-19 transmission, President Biden is once again calling on all entities that can prevent evictions – from cities and states to local courts, landlords, Cabinet agencies – to urgently act to prevent evictions.”
The latest CDC eviction ban was enacted on August 3, after a previous ban – originally enacted in Sept. 2020 and extended four times – was not allowed to be extended yet again due to a Supreme Court ruling stating that legislation passed by Congress was required. Due to lack of support on both sides of the aisle, that legislation never materialized, and the ban lapsed on July 31.
However, the CDC enacted a new ban on August 3 targeting counties with high rates of COVID-19 infection, but even President Joe Biden himself confided to reporters that the new moratorium was likely not constitutional, but that it would buy time for states to continue distributing $46.5 billion in federal rental relief funding.
Currently, reports indicate that there are 15 million people living in households that owe as much as $20 billion in back rent; meanwhile, landlords – many of whom are small mom-and-pop operations what have been financially devastated by the eviction bans – report that as many as 58 percent of their tenants are behind on their rent.