Aug 26, 2021 - Health

Supreme Court blocks Biden's COVID eviction ban

Photo of a protester holding a sign that says "Cancel rent" at an outdoors demonstration

Activists hold a protest against evictions near City Hall on August 11, 2021 in New York City. Photo: Spencer Platt via Getty Images

The Supreme Court blocked President Biden's moratorium on evictions in a 6-3 ruling on Thursday.

Why it matters: Roughly 3.5 million people across the U.S. said they faced eviction in the next two months, per Census Bureau data from mid-August.

State of play: The court previously ruled that the administration couldn’t extend the ban, instituted because of the coronavirus pandemic, past July 31 without explicit congressional authorization. But after protests and a clash with Democratic lawmakers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended the temporary ban through Oct. 3.

  • The case reached the Supreme Court after the Alabama Association of Realtors and other plaintiffs sued the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented.

What they're saying: "It would be one thing if Congress had specifically authorized the action that the CDC has taken," the unsigned Supreme Court opinion read. "But that has not happened."

  • "Instead, the CDC has imposed a nationwide moratorium on evictions in reliance on a decades-old statute that authorizes it to implement measures like fumigation and pest extermination."
  • "It strains credulity to believe that this statute grants the CDC the sweeping authority that it asserts," the opinion noted.

"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," press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Thursday evening.

  • "[F]amilies will face the painful impact of evictions, and communities across the country will face greater risk of exposure to COVID-19," she said, reiterating Biden's plea for cities and states to "urgently act to prevent evictions."

The big picture: Biden had urged Congress to extend the moratorium ahead of the July 31 deadline.

  • House Democrats, however, argued the CDC should extend the moratorium even if it was overruled so states have more time to disperse money to renters and landlords while Congress found another solution.
  • The CDC extended the ban on Aug. 3 after Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and other progressives protested outside the U.S. Capitol.
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