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Blocks new CDC order, despite delta variant

As we reporter earlier, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended the federal eviction moratorium thru October 3, 2021, limiting its application to those areas across the country experiencing high rates of COVID-19 infections. Expectedly, the legality of that directive was quickly challenged in court.

A coalition of landlords, realtors, and property managers argued that the agency lacked the authority to impose a new moratorium and that congressional action was needed. In its defense, the Biden administration—represented by acting Solicitor General, Brian Fletcher, of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)—asked the Supreme Court to leave the moratorium in place, saying it is a “lawful and urgently needed response to an unprecedented public emergency.”

“New evidence suggests that the delta variant is more than twice as transmissible as the original strains of SARS-CoV-2; that even vaccinated individuals who become infected with the delta variant may transmit the virus to others; and that the delta variant may increase the risk of breakthrough infections among vaccinated persons,” argued Fletcher. “It would be strange to hold that the government may combat infection by prohibiting the tenant from leaving his home, but not by prohibiting the landlord from throwing him out.”

On Thursday of last week, the court issued its per curiam opinion, noting that “the statute on which the CDC relies does not grant it the authority it claims.” Its more liberal jurists—Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor—dissented. "The public interest strongly favors respecting the CDC's judgment at this moment, when over 90% of counties are experiencing high transmission rates," Justice Breyer noted.

Back in June, our nation's highest court had previously rejected a similar request. But, at that time, stopped short of blocking that policy, with Justice Kavanaugh reasoning that the protection was about to expire (in July). However, when the CDC issued a modified policy in August, those calls for halting the order were renewed.

Sadly, this recent ruling puts hundreds of thousands of tenants across the country at risk of being forcibly removed from their homes.

If you are a New York State resident facing COVID related financial hardship, and/or fear eviction for non-payment, please review our earlier piece to determine whether you may be eligible for financial assistance under a local rent-relief program.

SOURCE (subscription required): https://www.law360.com/realestate/articles/1416359