Supreme Court Blocks Pandemic-Related Eviction Moratorium

On August 26, 2021, the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration from enforcing the latest CDC moratorium on evictions imposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Court, in an unsigned opinion, agreed with the district court that the CDC lacks statutory authority to impose a pandemic-related moratorium on evictions under current law and accordingly vacated the district court’s stay of its own decision pending the Government’s appeal. 

A previous moratorium—enacted by Congress in March 2020 in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act—expired in July 2020.  Since that time, both the CDC, on its own, and Congress, through a second round of Covid-19 relief legislation, extended the eviction moratorium.  When that second congressionally-approved eviction moratorium expired in early 2021, the CDC again extended the moratorium several times on its own through July 2021 (as previously covered by WBK here).  The CDC’s extensions of that moratorium were challenged in the courts, but by a thin 5-4 majority, the Supreme Court let stand the CDC’s previous extension of the eviction moratorium by the CDC without congressional action.

As part of the Court’s previous decision, Justice Kavanaugh filed a concurring opinion in which he concluded, “In my view, clear and specific congressional authorization (via new legislation) would be necessary for the CDC to extend the moratorium past July 31.”  Three days after that eviction moratorium expired, the CDC announced a new moratorium, which the Supreme Court has now blocked, that would have lasted until October 3, 2021.