The US Supreme Court on Tuesday issued an unsigned order maintaining a federal eviction moratorium put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The dispute, Alabama Association of Realtors v. Department of Health and Human Services, involves an eviction ban ordered by the CDC. The moratorium was part of the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw record numbers of people unemployed and unable to pay their rent. Congress had initially passed the moratorium, but it expired last September, at which point the CDC stepped in and issued its own moratorium.
The plaintiffs, a group of Alabama real estate agents, asked a federal court to overturn the moratorium, arguing that the CDC had exceeded its authority in issuing the ban. The district court agreed, but placed a hold on the ruling to give the federal government time to appeal. The real estate agents then asked the Supreme Court to remove the hold and allow the district court’s ruling to take effect, ending the moratorium on evictions.
The Court turned down the request Tuesday night. Four Justices—Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Barrett—indicated that they would have granted the realtors’ request. Since the realtors would have needed five votes to succeed, the remaining Justices all voted against their request. Justice Kavanaugh included a brief concurrence in which he agreed that the CDC had exceeded its authority, but because the moratorium is scheduled to end shortly on July 31, he voted to deny the realtors their relief. He did add that “clear and specific congressional authorization” would be needed for the CDC to extend the moratorium any longer.