Federal Judge Rules U.S. CDC Eviction Moratorium Unconstitutional

Posted on 02/27/2021

U.S. District Judge John Barker ruled in favor of landlords who challenged a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) order that prevented them from temporarily evicting tenants for non-payment of rent during the COVID-19 pandemic. “After analyzing the relevant precedents, the court concludes that the federal government’s Article I power to regulate interstate commerce and enact laws necessary and proper to that end does not include the power to impose the challenged eviction moratorium,” Barker wrote in his 21-page ruling. The Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) and Texas Public Policy Foundation jointly represented the plaintiffs in the case.

Judge John Barker said that the creation of such a moratorium “criminalizes the use of state legal proceedings to vindicate property rights.”

The CDC order was initially issued in September 2020 and was originally set to expire on December 31, 2020. The order was extended to January 31, 2021 and then again until the end of March 2021. The order only halts evictions, but does not relieve tenants from rent or housing payments. The moratorium left open the possibility that federal agencies could extend further control over eviction practices in the future. The case will likely be appealed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.

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