U.S. District Judge J. Campbell Barker ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moratorium on evictions is unconstitutional. The ruling came in response to a Texas lawsuit filed by property managers and owners.
It is expected that the Department of Justice will appeal the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. It is unclear at this time how the Texas Supreme Court will adjust the emergency orders it put in place to carry out the eviction moratorium. The court may wait to see if the ruling is appealed before making changes to its emergency orders. Local governments may also take action to implement their own eviction bans because the ruling noted that the lawsuit did not call into question the numerous eviction freezes or rent-aid schemes established at the state and local level.
Barker wrote that while states can monitor residential evictions and foreclosures—and did so during the Great Depression—the power of the federal government to regulate interstate trade under the U.S. Constitution does not grant it the right to enforce a moratorium. The judge noted that the federal government has never claimed such a power at any point during the nation’s history up until the CDC eviction moratorium was enacted last year. Barker stated that he expected the CDC to abide by his ruling and cease enforcement of the CDC’s moratorium order and, thus, he did not issue an injunction, which would have prohibited the CDC from continuing to enforce its moratorium. The judge did leave room for the plaintiffs to request an injunction if the CDC does not respect the ruling.
Learn about evictions during COVID-19 in a free webinar on March 3 at 10 a.m. CST from Texas REALTORS®. Register now.
Also, the Texas Rent Relief Program is accepting applications from landlords and tenants for help with rent and utility bills—both current expenses and those going back as far as March 2020. Get details and apply at texasrentrelief.com.