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Judge in eviction moratorium challenge indicates she'll move quickly to consider case

Two groups representing property owners had asked the federal judge Wednesday evening to block enforcement of the latest CDC eviction moratorium.

A federal judge overseeing a challenge to the new eviction moratorium the Biden administration put in place this week indicated on Thursday that she intends to consider it quickly, signally that the latest protections could be short lived.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has until Friday morning to submit a response to the motion filed by landlords seeking to block the latest eviction moratorium, U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich ordered on Thursday. The landlords then have until 9 p.m. ET on Friday to file their response.

Two groups representing property owners had asked the federal judge Wednesday evening to block enforcement of the latest CDC eviction moratorium, which was put in place after the prior ordered expired. The administration said repeatedly it lacked the authority to extend the original order, but did so anyway after Congress failed to act and progressive Democrats applied pressure.

The Alabama Association of Realtors and its Georgia counterpart argued in the emergency court filing that the latest moratorium issued by the CDC is "unlawful." The CDC's order is essentially an extension of the previous moratorium, which "has prevented landlords from evicting tenants who aren't paying their rent during the pandemic," the filing said.

The groups, which challenged the first moratorium in court, also argued that the CDC "caved to the political pressure" after Democrats pressed the White House to extend the moratorium over the weekend. The groups said the agency issued the new order "for nakedly political reasons — to ease the political pressure, shift the blame to the courts for ending the moratorium, and use litigation delays to achieve a policy objective."

The CDC issued the new eviction moratorium for regions of the country with "substantial and high transmission" of the coronavirus.

If counties improve their Covid rates and do not experience substantial and high transmission for 14 consecutive days, tenants will no longer be protected by the CDC moratorium. Similarly, if Covid cases worsen in a county, renters might become protected by the CDC order. County transmission rates can be found on the CDC website. The new order will expire Oct. 3.

At the onset of the pandemic, Congress imposed a temporary ban on evictions, but it expired in July 2020. At then-President Donald Trump's direction, the CDC issued an order of its own extending the eviction ban through March, which President Joe Biden later extended.

A federal judge in Washington ruled in May that the CDC had no power to issue the moratorium on foreclosures. But the judge stayed the order to give the government time to appeal. A federal appeals court declined to lift the stay, leaving the moratorium in place.

The Alabama Association of Realtors was one of the leaders of the challenge to the moratorium, which went to the Supreme Court. In a 5-4 vote in late June, the high court allowed the eviction ban to remain in place only through the end of July. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who voted with the majority, wrote a concurring opinion arguing that action by Congress would be required to extend it further.

The groups asked the court to halt the new CDC eviction ban, saying it violated that ruling.

"This Court should immediately vacate the CDC's fourth extension because it conflicts with the Supreme Court's ruling," the groups said in the court filing. "A majority of the Supreme Court made clear that the eviction moratorium exceeds the CDC's statutory authority and could not be extended beyond July 31, thus vindicating this Court's first merits ruling. The Supreme Court's ruling was hardly ambiguous."