Law & the Courts

Federal Judge Leaves CDC Eviction Moratorium in Place

People gather during a protest supporting an extension of the pandemic-related federal moratorium on residential evictions outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., August 1, 2021. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)

A federal judge declined to block the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium, in a ruling issued on Friday.

U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich of Washington, D.C., said she could not block the moratorium because her “hands are tied” by a previous ruling from the D.C. circuit court of appeals on an earlier version of the moratorium.

Friedrich ruled in May that the previous eviction moratorium was illegal. However, in June the D.C. circuit court and the Supreme Court blocked requests by landlords to implement Friedrich’s decision.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in his opinion on June 29 that he agreed with Friedrich’s position that the CDC “exceeded its existing statutory authority” by issuing the moratorium. However, Kavanaugh ruled to allow the moratorium to stand until its expiration date on July 31, adding that “clear and specific congressional authorization (via new legislation) would be necessary” to extend the moratorium.

While Congress did not extend the moratorium via legislation, the CDC enacted a new moratorium banning evictions in counties with what it defines as “high” or “substantial” coronavirus spread, including the vast majority of U.S. counties as of August 13.

“It is true that the Supreme Court’s recent decision in this case strongly suggests that the CDC is unlikely to succeed on the merits,” Friedrich wrote in her opinion on Friday. “But the (District) Court’s hands are tied. The Supreme Court did not issue a controlling opinion in this case, and circuit precedent provides that the votes of dissenting Justices may not be combined with that of a concurring Justice to create binding law.”


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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.


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