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DOJ Vows To Appeal Court Ruling Against CDC’s Eviction Moratorium

 The Department of Justice argued in a court filing Wednesday that the U.S. eviction moratorium should not be tossed out, mere hours after a federal judge ruled that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had overstepped its authority by enacting the policy.

The moratorium, enacted last September, prohibits landlords from evicting tenants in certain circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the policy originated under former President Donald Trump, the Biden administration has twice extended it, including most recently in March.

“The CDC’s eviction moratorium — which Congress extended last December and the CDC later extended through June 30, 2021 — protects many renters who cannot make their monthly payments due to job loss or health care expenses,” Brian Boynton, acting attorney general for the civil division, said in a statement. “Scientific evidence shows that evictions exacerbate the spread of COVID-19, which has already killed more than half a million Americans, and the harm to the public that would result from unchecked evictions cannot be undone.”

“The Department of Justice respectfully disagrees with today’s decision of the district court in Alabama Association of Realtors v. HHS concluding that the moratorium exceeds CDC’s statutory authority to protect public health. In the department’s view, that decision conflicts with the text of the statute, Congress’s ratification of the moratorium, and the rulings of other courts,” added Boynton. “The department has already filed a notice of appeal of the decision and intends to seek an emergency stay of the order pending appeal.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Beccera, a Democrat who oversees the department that heads the CDC, also publicly challenged the court ruling during an appearance on MSNBC.

“I believe the president will want to try to correct this, or certainly continue to fight to make sure we don’t see Americans dispossessed and out on the street, not at this time,” said Beccera, reports POLITICO. “We’re making too much success on COVID to go backwards, so I know this administration will be looking for ways to try to make sure we keep people in their homes.”

Ahead of the court ruling Wednesday, the federal government argued that the Public Health Services Act did, in fact, allow for the pandemic-related eviction moratorium. The court, however, disagreed.

“The Court recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic is a serious public health crisis that has presented unprecedented challenges for public health officials and the nation as a whole. The pandemic has triggered difficult policy decisions that have had enormous real-world consequences. The nationwide eviction moratorium is one such decision,” said the court’s ruling.

“It is the role of the political branches, and not the courts, to assess the merits of policy measures designed to combat the spread of disease, even during a global pandemic. The question for the Court is a narrow one: Does the Public Health Service Act grant the CDC the legal authority to impose a nationwide eviction moratorium? It does not,” the court ruled.

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