Federal Judge Ruled Moratorium on Evictions Unconstitutional, Biden Balks

By Faye Higbee

Federal Judge John Barker ruled on Thursday that the Federal moratorium on evictions is unconstitutional and harmful to landlords and property owners. He did not issue an injunction, but expected the CDC to withdraw their moratorium. Biden is looking for ways around the ruling to extend it.

“The federal government cannot say that it has ever before invoked its power over interstate commerce to impose a residential eviction moratorium. 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.”

US District Court Judge John Barker

The CDC issued the first eviction moratorium. The CARES Act from March 27 included an eviction moratorium for 120 days. A separate moratorium until August 31 by the Federal government (FHFA) was issued for single family housing that paused foreclosures for mortgages backed by Freddie and Fannie Mae. (Politifact) In addtion, numerous states extended their own moratorium on evictions.

President Trump’s Executive order on evictions asked federal agencies to find ways of assistance to those who needed help, but did not actually put a moratorium on evictions in place. It was the CDC who issued the moratorium that was set to expire on December 31, 2020. They extended it to February 3. Biden extended it through March.

The judge opted against issuing an injunction that would block the federal ban on evictions, instead signaling that he expected the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to withdraw its moratorium…

…The CDC’s order, which halted evictions for tenants who among other things had tried to get rental assistance, was originally slated to expire at the end of December, but it was extended through January thanks to a second stimulus package approved by Congress. The moratorium was extended through March by President Joe Biden after he took office…

…Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said in a statement that the protections remain in place for tenants for now, but the ruling is still harmful. Tens of millions of people could lose their homes if the eviction moratorium is overturned, she said.

The Texas Tribune

One problem with the moratorium is that property owners who have to make payments on the housing properties have to been largely unable to do so because the tenants haven’t been able to pay the rent during the pandemic. The other components of this are the forbearance and foreclosure extensions that have blocked property owners from foreclosing on properties. Apartment renters, house renters, and in some states even commercial renters have benefitted from moratoriums imposed by the government. All of which has left landlords and property owners often scrambling to pay for the properties with little income to do so.

Then there are the people who have been unable to make those payments because of a loss of work. That issue will now continue indefinitely thanks to Biden signing massive amounts of executive orders that are set to destroy huge swaths of the American economy. The issue is, will these “temporary” moratoriums continue?

White House officials told the Daily Caller that the president is disappointed with the decision from Judge John Barker and that the Department of Justice is evaluating options to proceed with the moratorium…

…The White House stressed rulings from two other district courts that upheld the moratorium and said that the millions of Texans impacted by power outages stemming from Winter Storm Uri need this aid now more than ever. 

Daily Caller

The Federal judge ruled only for the moratorium on evictions, not the forbearance and foreclosure measures. Because he declined to issue an injunction, there are ample ways to get around the decision. His ruling is likely to be appealed.

Once people become this dependent on the government, it is extremely difficult to right the sinking ship. The original moratorium and Biden’s extension through March sounds ‘helpful.’ But as with any government program, it’s almost impossible to extricate from it without creating an absolute snarl.

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Featured photo: Screenshot from original photo by Irfan Khan- California

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