The Department of Justice has filed an appeal of a federal judge’s decision this week that declared the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eviction moratorium unconstitutional.
Judge John Barker, a Trump appointee in the Eastern District of Texas, stopped short of issuing a preliminary injunction but said he expected the CDC to respect his ruling and withdraw the moratorium.
But Saturday night, the Justice Department filed an appeal in the case.
“The Department of Justice respectfully disagrees with the February 25 decision of the district court in Terkel v. CDC that the CDC’s eviction moratorium exceeds Congress’ powers under the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause, and the Department has appealed that decision,” Brian M. Boynton, acting assistant attorney general for the department’s civil division, said in a statement.
“The decision, however, does not extend beyond the particular plaintiffs in that case, and it does not prohibit the application of the CDC’s eviction moratorium to other parties. For other landlords who rent to covered persons, the CDC’s eviction moratorium remains in effect.”
The ruling punctuated a legal effort that began when a group of Texas landlords and property owners sued the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services in October over the Eviction Moratorium Order that was issued by the Trump administration in September, putting a temporary halt on evictions during the pandemic.
The CDC order was set to expire at the end of December, but it was extended through January by a provision in the second stimulus package. One of President Joe Biden’s first acts in office was to seek to extend the moratorium again until the end of March.
The order is invoked when a tenant gives their landlord a signed declaration asserting that they meet specific requirements — including that they earn less than $100,000 a year, have experienced a significant loss of income and have made their best effort to find rental assistant to pay their rent.
Under the order, rent is not canceled or forgiven and landlords can evict tenants after the moratorium ends if they are not able to pay the back rent.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.