Texas judge finds national eviction moratorium unconstitutional

Bizar Male

An eviction notice in Los Angeles.

Lucy Nicholson | Reuters

A federal judge in Texas has ruled that the national ban on evictions that’s been in place since September is unconstitutional.

“Although the Covid-19 pandemic persists, so does the Constitution,” U.S. District Judge John Barker wrote Thursday evening, siding with a group of property managers who argued that the ban exceeds the power of the federal government.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national eviction moratorium was first announced under former President Donald Trump in September 2020. It prohibited evicting renters who were financially struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic.

President Joe Biden has since extended the moratorium through March, and has called for it to be kept in effect through September 2021.

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The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Landlords have criticized the CDC’s moratorium, saying the government was overstepping its authority and that they can’t afford to house nonpaying tenants. There have also been court challenges to the moratorium in Georgia, Louisiana and Tennessee, though they were all unsuccessful.

Advocates of the ban quickly slammed the ruling, and feared it would trigger a flood of eviction filings. The winter storms that have led to massive power outages across Texas will only worsen the situation, they say.

“This decision is a major deviation from all other district court decisions that upheld the CDC moratorium as constitutional,” said Emily Benfer, a visiting professor of law at Wake Forest University.

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