Supreme Court lets eviction moratorium stand - Affordable Housing Online

Supreme Court lets eviction moratorium stand

By on June 30th, 2021

Tagged As: Affordable Housing News, COVID-19 Evictions

U.S. Supreme Court Building. Photo by rush.house.gov

The Supreme Court on Tuesday let stand a national moratorium on evictions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently extended the eviction moratorium through July 31, 2021. The Supreme Court’s decision means that low-income renters will be protected from eviction until the CDC’s order expires.

The CDC eviction moratorium had been overturned by a federal District Court judge. The District Court said that the CDC had exceeded its authority under the Public Health Services Act when it ordered a halt to all evictions. The judge, however, put a stay on her order so that eviction protections would stay in place while the Biden administration appealed.

The Alabama Association of Realtors, who had challenged the CDC order, asked the DC Court of Appeals to remove the District Court’s stay. When the Appeals Court decided to leave the stay in place during the appeal process, the Realtors made an emergency petition to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court decision was a close 5-4 vote. Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kavanaugh joined the three liberal justices in the majority. Those also supporting continued eviction protections were Justices Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor. Voting to end eviction protections were Justices Alito, Coney Barret, Gorsuch, and Thomas.

Image by cdc.gov

As is common with emergency petitions, the Court did not provide an explanation of its opinion to uphold the stay and keep eviction protections in place. Justice Kavanaugh, however, did include some remarks explaining his decision to maintain the eviction protections.

In his concurring opinion, Justice Kavanaugh said he voted not to end eviction protections because they would expire on July 31st. He noted that those few weeks “will allow for additional and more orderly distribution” of the emergency rental assistance that Congress has provided.

Even though state and local programs have been slow getting assistance to low-income renters, the Biden administration has said it does not intend to extend the CDC order again. However, the president has ordered federal agencies to help get emergency rental assistance to as many renters as possible before the eviction protections end. They will work with state and local programs to help streamline the process and reach underserved communities.

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Chris Holden

Chris Holden, Affordable Housing Online's Senior Housing Analyst, has been in the affordable housing field for 25 years. Originally from Keene, New Hampshire, he has worked as a researcher, policy analyst, lender, trainer and real estate developer. He also taught political science at Keene State College. He is focused on making housing policies more accessible for low-income renters.