Housing Advocates Boston Eviction Moratorium Sign
Housing activists gathering in Massachusetts in October.
Michael Dwyer/AP Photo
  • DOJ attorneys on Saturday said they’d appeal a judgment striking down the US eviction moratorium. 
  • The moratorium “helps to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Brian M. Boynton, DOJ attorney.
  • A Trump-appointed judge on Thursday said the federal moratorium was unlawful. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The Justice Department on Saturday said it would appeal a judge’s ruling that struck down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s federal eviction moratorium.

On Thursday, US District Judge John Barker of the Eastern District of Texas said the creation of such a moratorium “criminalizes the use of state legal proceedings to vindicate property rights.” 

In a 21-page summary judgment, Barker, a Trump appointee, said the moratorium was unconstitutional. Giving the federal government such “broad authority” over state legal proceedings resembled a “prohibited federal police power,” Barker wrote.

“Although the COVID-19 pandemic persists, so does the Constitution,” he added. 

DOJ prosecutors filed a notice on Saturday, saying they would appeal Barker’s judgement to the US Court of Appeals for the fifth circuit.

Brian M. Boynton, DOJ acting assistant attorney general, said: “The Department of Justice respectfully disagrees with the February 25 decision of the district court in Terkel v. CDC that the CDC’s eviction moratorium exceeds Congress’ powers under the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause, and the Department has appealed that decision.”

Eviction Moratorium Activists Massachusetts Signs DOJ
Housing activists erect a sign in front of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker's house in Swampscott, Mass.
Michael Dwyer/AP Photo

Boynton said: “The decision, however, does not extend beyond the particular plaintiffs in that case, and it does not prohibit the application of the CDC’s eviction moratorium to other parties.  For other landlords who rent to covered persons, the CDC’s eviction moratorium remains in effect.”

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President Donald Trump signed the CDC eviction moratorium in September.

“I want to make it unmistakably clear that I’m protecting people from evictions,” he said in a statement at the time.

Congress extended the moratorium in December, keeping it in place until President Joe Biden’s term began. At the time, almost 6 million Americans were threatened by eviction or foreclosure. About 18 million people in the US were behind on their rent or mortgage payments, according to the US Census Bureau. CNN reported that evictions were disproportionately affecting people of color. 

On his first day in office in January, Biden signed an executive order extending the moratorium to the end of March.

In his Saturday statement, Boynton said, “By preventing people from becoming homeless or having to move into more-crowded housing, the moratorium helps to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

 

 

 

 

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