Landlords in Louisiana are asking a federal appeals court to block the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s legally dubious nationwide eviction moratorium while that court considers an appeal from the landlords.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended the moratorium earlier this month after President Joe Biden acknowledged doing so would be illegal and after Congress opted not to extend it.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky signed an order Aug. 3 determining that allowing tenants to be evicted for failing to make rent or housing payments could harm public health control measures aimed at slowing the spread of the CCP virus, also known as SARS-CoV-2, that causes the disease COVID-19. The order will expire Oct. 3.
“The emergence of the delta variant has led to a rapid acceleration of community transmission in the United States, putting more Americans at increased risk, especially if they are unvaccinated,” Walensky said in a press release at the time.
“This moratorium is the right thing to do to keep people in their homes and out of congregate settings where COVID-19 spreads. It is imperative that public health authorities act quickly to mitigate such an increase of evictions, which could increase the likelihood of new spikes in SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Such mass evictions and the attendant public health consequences would be very difficult to reverse.”
The extension also came after Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh acknowledged June 29 in Alabama Association of Realtors v. Department of Health and Human Services that the CDC “exceeded its existing statutory authority by issuing a nationwide eviction moratorium.”
In that case the high court voted 5-4 not to stay the moratorium. Kavanaugh voted with the majority, saying that pausing the ban when it had only a month left to run would be too disruptive, but added, “In my view, clear and specific congressional authorization (via new legislation) would be necessary for the CDC to extend the moratorium past July 31.”
The landlords are represented by Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), a public interest law firm headquartered in Sacramento, California.
“The CDC’s eviction moratorium is illegal, and the Biden administration knows it,” said PLF attorney Luke Wake.
“This is not a public health measure, but a cynical bow to pressure from favored interest groups. The moratorium exists only because Justice Kavanaugh didn’t vote to suspend it, and President Biden knows the CDC can get away with enforcing it for now. The illegal moratorium is harming landlords and the housing market, and the courts need to put an end to it.”
The case at hand, Chambless Enterprises LLC v. Walensky, court file 21-30037, is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. The lead defendant, Walensky, is CDC director and administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. The motion for injunction pending appeal was filed with the court Aug. 18.
The court ordered the government to file a response by Monday, Aug. 23 at 9 a.m. Central time, Wake told The Epoch Times in an interview.
As the moratorium was about to expire, “there was a lot of pressure on the White House to act unilaterally, and that’s what they did,” Wake said. President Biden employed a “cynical realpolitik calculus.”
The lawyer is very confident about his clients’ prospects in court.
“It’s all but certain that we’re going to win,” he said.
“The judicial writing is on the wall. The Supreme Court has made very clear that this moratorium is illegal.”
Four federal district courts have ruled that the CDC lacks statutory authority to enact a moratorium on evictions, he said.
In a case brought by PLF, Skyworks v. CDC, a federal court in Ohio became the first court to rule that the agency lacked statutory authority to enact the eviction ban, he said. That ruling was issued March 10.
The Epoch Times reached out to the CDC for comment but had not received a reply as of press time.
Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative journalist and a recognized expert in left-wing activism.