Evictions moratorium withstands first legal challenge

National & World News

FILE – In this Jan. 13, 2021, file photo, tenants’ rights advocates demonstrate in front of the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse in Boston. A federal judge who declared the earlier nationwide moratorium on evictions illegal is deeply skeptical of the Biden administration’s new order, but says she may lack the power to do anything about it. U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich on Monday promised a decision soon in an effort by Alabama landlords to block the moratorium imposed last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which it said was based on the spread of COVID-19′s delta variant. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) – A federal judge is refusing landlords’ request to put the Biden administration’s new eviction moratorium on hold, though she made clear she thinks it’s illegal.

U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich on Friday said her “hands are tied” by an appellate ruling the last time courts considered the evictions moratorium in the spring.

Alabama landlords who are challenging the moratorium are likely to appeal.

Friedrich wrote that the new temporary ban on evictions the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention imposed last week is substantially similar to the version she ruled was illegal in May. At the time, Freidrich put her ruling on hold to allow the administration to appeal.

This time, she said, she is bound to follow a ruling from the appeals court that sits above her, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

If the D.C. Circuit doesn’t give the landlords what they want, they are expected to seek Supreme Court involvement.

In late June, the high court refused by a 5-4 vote to allow evictions to resume. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, part of the slim majority, said he agreed with Friedrich, but was voting to keep the moratorium in place because it was set to expire at the end of July.

Kavanaugh said then that he would reject any additional extension without clear authorization from Congress, which has not been able to take action.

In discussing the new moratorium last week, President Joe Biden acknowledged there were questions about its legality, but said a court fight over the new CDC order would buy time for the distribution of some of the $45 billion in rental assistance that has been approved but not yet used.

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