WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court on Thursday lifted the latest federal ban on evictions during the Covid-19 pandemic, siding with landlords against a moratorium the Biden administration imposed this month despite questions about its legality. Three liberal justices dissented.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has repeatedly renewed the eviction moratorium for millions of tenants affected by the pandemic, in large part to allow them to remain in their homes as state and local governments struggle to disburse some $47 billion of rental assistance provided by Congress. The current order was set to expire Oct. 3; as of July 31, just $4.7 billion of the rental assistance had reached landlords and tenants.
But in Thursday’s unsigned opinion, the court’s conservative majority said the temporary eviction ban exceeded the CDC’s authority to combat communicable diseases, forcing landlords to bear the pandemic’s costs.
“The moratorium has put…millions of landlords across the country, at risk of irreparable harm by depriving them of rent payments with no guarantee of eventual recovery,” the court said. “Many landlords have modest means. And preventing them from evicting tenants who breach their leases intrudes on one of the most fundamental elements of property ownership—the right to exclude.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the decision disappointing, though President Biden had acknowledged the order was legally shaky.
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