A federal judge in Texas has declared the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction moratorium unconstitutional, holding that Article I’s power to regulate interstate commerce and enact laws necessary and proper for such regulation does not include the power to suspend residential evictions on a nationwide basis. While the court stopped short of issuing immediate injunctive relief, instead relying on the CDC to “respect the declaratory judgment” and withdraw the Order, the court stated that such relief would be available if the government does not comply with the decision. With this ruling, the most significant prohibition on residential evictions for nonpayment of rent is likely to be lifted, and many residential evictions halted or delayed under the Order may begin in earnest. While additional tenant protections remain in certain locales, this federal ruling increases the likely rate and pace of residential eviction activity across the country.
The CDC Eviction Moratorium was a nationwide order enacted under the Trump Administration in an effort to reduce the adverse economic impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on residential tenants, and as a public health measure to prevent displacement of individuals into living situations conducive to the spread of the COVID-19. The Order allowed tenants facing eviction due to financial strains caused by the pandemic to certify in writing to their landlord that they are unable to pay full rent and that eviction would likely lead to homelessness or force the individual into unsafe congregate or shared living quarters. The CDC issued the order under its emergency pandemic powers under the Public Health Service Act. Initially in effect through December 31, 2020, the Order was subsequently extended through March 31, 2021.
Reprinted courtesy of Zachary Kessler, Pillsbury, Amanda G. Halter, Pillsbury and Adam Weaver, Pillsbury
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