To the thousands and thousands of Americans spared eviction by September’s moratorium announced by former President Donald Trump, the U.S. Constitution has become the enemy.
A federal judge in Texas on Thursday has ruled that the national ban, brought by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, is unconstitutional.
“Although the Covid-19 pandemic persists, so does the Constitution,” U.S. District Judge John Barker wrote, supporting property managers whose stance was that the moratorium does not fall within the power of the federal government.
President Joe Biden extended the moratorium through March, and it could extend through September if included in the latest stimulus package being considered.
“The federal government cannot say that it has ever before invoked its power over interstate commerce to impose a residential eviction moratorium. It did not do so during the deadly Spanish Flu pandemic,” Barker wrote.
The divisive subject, which prohibits evicting renters in dire financial straits because of the coronavirus pandemic, has strong support on both sides.
Landlords claim they can’t afford to continue giving a free pass to tenants, while those favoring the ban worry about an immediate crush of eviction filings.
A CNBC story reported recent research found evictions mean significantly more coronavirus cases and deaths. One estimate cited more than 1.7 million households in Texas worried about paying rent.
“This is a time where it’s not an overstatement to say that for many people, eviction can lead to death,” said Helen Matthews, communications manager at Boston’s City Life Vida Urbana, in the CNBC story.
The ban has seen court challenges – unsuccessful to this point — in Georgia, Louisiana and Tennessee.