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Supreme Court declines to stop federal moratorium on evictions

The temporary moratorium on evictions, which now expires in July, was imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Supreme Court on June 1, 2021.
The Supreme Court on June 1, 2021.Erin Scott / Reuters file

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to end the federal government's temporary ban on evictions, which now is scheduled to expire in July.

The high court ruled 5-4. Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that he thought the ban was illegal, but he noted that it is scheduled to expire soon.

The moratorium on evictions was put in place due to the financial hardship of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a nationwide eviction moratorium last year due to the pandemic.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement at that time that the pandemic has presented historic challenges, and that keeping people in their homes and out of crowded settings like shelters will help stop the spread of the virus.

The Biden administration earlier this month extended the moratorium through the end of July. The CDC has said that extension was intended to be the last.

A U.S. district court judge in May ruled that the CDC exceeded its authority, but the judge put his order on hold. The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to lift that hold.

Kavanaugh wrote in a brief order that he agreed that the CDC exceeded its authority in issuing a nationwide eviction moratorium.

But Kavanaugh wrote that the CDC plans to end it in a few weeks, and that those weeks will allow for the distribution of rental assistance funds that have been approved by Congress. Kavanaugh wrote that he believes Congress would need act through legislation if the CDC planned to extend it past July 31.

Kavanaugh concurred with the decision that kept the moratorium in place, joining Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Bryer, Elena Kagan and Chief Justice John Roberts.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett would have granted the application to remove the stay, which would have stopped the moratorium, according to the brief order.

The CDC put the prohibition on evicting renters in place in September. After President Joe Biden took office in January, it was extended through the end of March, extended again through the end of June, and then on Thursday extended until July 31.

By the end of March, 6.4 million American households were behind on their rent, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. As of June 7, roughly 3.2 million people in the U.S. said they faced eviction in the next two months, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

Pete Williams and The Associated Press contributed.