Texas decide finds nationwide eviction moratorium unconstitutional

An eviction notice in Los Angeles.

Lucy Nicholson | Reuters

A federal judge in Texas ruled that the September national eviction ban is unconstitutional.

“While the Covid-19 pandemic persists, so does the constitution,” US District Judge John Barker wrote Thursday evening, joining a group of property managers who argued that the ban was beyond the power of the federal government.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national eviction moratorium was first announced in September 2020 under former President Donald Trump. It banned the eviction of tenants who had financial problems because of the coronavirus pandemic.

President Joe Biden has since extended the moratorium to March, and the latest work in progress stimulus package would keep it in place 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, stating that the government has exceeded its authority and cannot afford to accommodate non-paying tenants. There have also been legal challenges to the moratorium in Georgia, Louisiana, and Tennessee, though they all remained unsuccessful.

Proponents of the ban were quick to slam the verdict, fearing it would spark a spate of eviction files. The winter storms that have caused massive power outages across Texas will only make things worse, they say.

“This ruling is a major departure from any other district court rulings that upheld the CDC’s moratorium as constitutional,” said Emily Benfer, visiting law professor at Wake Forest University.

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