The U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority is letting evictions continue across the country, blocking the Biden White House from enforcing a temporary block that was enacted because of the covid pandemic.
The court’s action this Thursday stops protections for around 3.5 million people in the country who said they faced eviction within the next two months, according to a Census report from August.
The court reported in an opinion that the CDC, which reimposed the eviction moratorium August 3, lacked the ability to do so under federal laws without congressional authorization. The justices refused the White House’s arguments supporting the CDC’s alleged authority.
“If a federally enacted eviction moratorium is to keep going, Congress must be the one to authorize it,” the court said.
The three liberal justices were the dissented. Justice Stephen Breyer, writing on behalf of the three, pointed to an increase in coronavirus caused by the delta variant as among the reasons why the court should have allowed the moratorium to stay in place. “The public interest strongly backs respecting the CDC’s judgement at this time, when over 90% of American counties are seeing high infection rates,” Breyer said.
It was Biden’s second loss this week in the high court’s conservative majority. This Tuesday, the court also effectively allowed the return of a Trump-era program that forced asylum seekers to wait inside Mexican territory for their court hearings. The new administration had attempted to end the Remain in Mexico policy, as it is called.
For evictions, President Biden acknowledged the legal problems the moratorium would likely have. But he said that regardless, it was worth a show since it would buy a few weeks at least for the distribution of over $46.5 billion in rental assistance that Congress had approved.
The Treasury Dept. said Wednesday that the pace of the distribution had increased and almost a million households were already helped. But just 11% of the money, right over $5 billion, was distributed by state and local authorities, the dept. said.
The administration has asked these non-federal officials to “move more quickly” in giving out the rental assistance money and pushed state and local courts to give their own moratoriums to “discourage evictions” until tenants have obtained the funds.
Author: Steven Sinclaire