The Supreme Court dropped the hammer on nonpaying tenants Thursday, ruling President Joe Biden’s latest eviction ban unconstitutional.
The decision frees landlords to move forward with eviction proceedings, except in the few places where local moratoriums remain in place. New York’s ban, which was severely weakened by the high court this month, is due to expire Aug. 31.
It might still be many months before landlords can get tenants out, given the backlog of cases and the shortage of funds for smaller property owners to hire attorneys. Many will opt for federal rent relief to be paid out by states, a process that has been delayed in much of the nation and especially in New York.
The Supreme Court’s conservative majority ruled that the Centers for Disease Control had exceeded its authority in issuing the moratorium by relying on a law granting it powers to protect public health in emergencies.
The three liberal justices dissented, ruling that the coronavirus pandemic is just such an emergency and that the majority rushed a decision that merited ample argument and careful consideration.
The turn of events was not a surprise, given that in a ruling upholding the CDC’s even more sweeping moratorium that ended July 31, the court indicated that future moratoriums would require an act of Congress. But Democrats lacked the votes to pass such a measure, and Republicans did not entertain giving them any.
The original CDC moratorium, imposed in September during the Trump administration, covered all 50 states. The one canceled by the high court Thursday was in effect in counties where Covid rates were high — a classification which, when the ban was implemented Aug. 3, applied to about 80 percent of counties in the country.