US appeals court upholds CDC's eviction moratorium

Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

A federal appeals court on Friday allowed a federal COVID-19-related pause on evictions to remain in place.

Posted: Aug 20, 2021 2:35 PM
Updated: Aug 20, 2021 2:48 PM

A federal appeals court on Friday said that it would not block the Biden administration's latest eviction moratorium.

In a brief order, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit said it was denying a request from the landlord groups, who are challenging the moratorium, to reverse a previous court order that has allowed it to continue.

The legal challenge to the moratorium is likely now headed to the Supreme Court, which in June refused to block an earlier iteration of the moratorium but may be more inclined to halt the current version.

The latest moratorium was announced by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this month, days after the administration allowed a previous freeze on evictions to expire on July 31. Before the new moratorium -- which applies to areas of the country with high or substantial transmission of Covid-19 -- was announced, several top Biden administration officials said they did not think it would be upheld by the Supreme Court but were willing to try it.

President Joe Biden suggested earlier this month that potential litigation would buy the government time to disperse rental assistance from Covid relief funds.

"It will probably give some additional time while we're getting that $45 billion out to people who are, in fact, behind in the rent and don't have the money," he told reporters.

When the Supreme Court considered the earlier moratorium in June, it voted 5-4 against blocking it. But Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a swing vote at the time in favor of the moratorium, indicated he would vote to block the moratorium if it were extended beyond its July 31 expiration date.

In this most recent phase of the litigation, the landlord groups pointed to Kavanaugh's concurring opinion to argue that the DC Circuit should reverse an order it handed down in June that let the moratorium continue.

Last week, US District Judge Dabney Friedrich said she couldn't block the moratorium because of that previous order, even as she had major doubts about the moratorium's legality.

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