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CDC's eviction moratorium is blocked by federal judge in Texas

Chris Dolmetsch, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium was blocked by a Texas judge who said the federal government overstepped its authority in stopping landlords from throwing out tenants.

U.S. District Judge J. Campbell Barker, who was nominated by President Donald Trump, said that while states have the authority to regulate residential evictions and foreclosures — and did so during the Great Depression — the federal government’s power to regulate interstate commerce under the Constitution doesn’t give it the right to impose a moratorium.

“The federal government cannot say that it has ever before invoked its power over interstate commerce to impose a residential eviction moratorium,” Barker wrote in a ruling Thursday. “It did not do so during the deadly Spanish Flu pandemic. Nor did it invoke such a power during the exigencies of the Great Depression. The federal government has not claimed such a power at any point during our nation’s history until last year.”

The CDC didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The CDC enacted the ban in September in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The ban was originally set to expire at the end of the year but has been extended through the end of March. Managers and owners of residential properties in Texas seeking to evict some tenants for not paying rent then sued the agency in federal court in Tyler seeking a court order declaring the moratorium invalid.

 

The lawsuit was brought by the Texas Public Policy Foundation and the Southeastern Legal Foundation.

“The CDC attempted to use Covid-19 as an opportunity to grab power and the court rightfully corrected this egregious overreach,” the foundation’s General Counsel Robert Henneke said. “This case puts down a marker.”

The case is Terkel v Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20-cv-564, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Tyler.)

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