Federal appeals court refuses to stay decision striking down CDC eviction moratorium
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Federal appeals court refuses to stay decision striking down CDC eviction moratorium

The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on Monday denied the federal government’s motion to stay a district court decision striking down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction moratorium.

In response to COVID-19, the CDC ordered a nationwide moratorium on residential evictions last fall. This moratorium covered tenants if they provided their landlord with a statement attesting that they incurred a substantial loss of income, applied for all available rent relief, and understood that the moratorium did not relieve of rental obligations. Congress extended the moratorium to January 31, 2021, and the CDC further extended it to March 31.

In September, owners and managers of residential property challenged the moratorium in the Western District of Tennessee on grounds that it violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and the district court struck down the order. The government moved to stay the district court’s order pending appeal, which the Sixth Circuit denied on Monday.

The panel found that the Public Health Service Act, which the CDC used as the sole statutory basis for the moratorium extension, could not support the power that CDC was trying to exert. The CDC can impose specific restrictions on property and liberty interests to slow disease transmission, but the order fell outside of the Act’s scope. Congress had withdrawn its support of the moratorium on January 31, and the CDC was not authorized by statute to extend the order.

Because of this, the court found that the government was unlikely to succeed on the merits, denying the emergency motion for a stay pending appeal.

In Texas, a federal judge also struck down the moratorium in February, stating that the federal government does not have the authority to implement the ban.