U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich on Wednesday ruled that a CDC nation-wide eviction moratorium was illegal, writing in a court opinion that the CDC lacked the “legal authority” to impose such a moratorium.
Friedrich ruled on the case of Alabama Association of Realtors v. United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) – of which the CDC is a part.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky in March had issued an Order extending the eviction moratorium through June 2021, citing increased risk of Covid-19 exposure to people who were evicted or became homeless.
At the time, an estimated 4 million adults “perceive they are at imminent risk of eviction,” according to a U.S. Census Bureau Census Household Pulse Survey.
“A wave of evictions on that scale would be unprecedented in modern times,” the CDC wrote in its March Order.
Still, not everyone has been supportive of the freeze in evictions, in particular landlords and other realtors. At least 6 cases have been heard against the CDC Order arguing that the CDC overstepped its statutory authority, according to the summary of the case.
“A number of eviction freezes enacted by state and local governments will not be affected by Wednesday’s ruling, which concerns only the federal moratorium,” the Hill reported.
The Cares Act passed in March 2020 included a 120-day eviction moratorium on rental properties receiving federal support, though this expired in July.
In September 2020, the then-Trump-appointed CDC Director issued an Order “temporarily halting evictions” on all rental properties in the United States. This Order has been extended three times after it was set to expire on December 31, 2020: once by Congress, twice by the CDC.
In addition to facilitating self-isolation for those who contracted Covid-19 or who are at high risk of severe illness, eviction moratoria also assist state and local governments to implement social distancing orders, according to the CDC.