- A federal judge in Texas struck down the constitutionality of an eviction moratorium.
- The moratorium aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 due to housing instability.
- But several landlords argued that the moratorium violated their rights as property owners.
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A federal judge in Texas ruled that an eviction moratorium put into place by the Centers for Disease Control and supported by former President Donald Trump is unconstitutional.
US District Judge John Barker in the Eastern District of Texas said that the creation of such a moratorium “criminalizes the use of state legal proceedings to vindicate property rights.”
In a 21-page summary judgment, Barker, a Trump appointee, said that the eviction moratorium left open the possibility that federal agencies could extend further control over eviction practices in the future.
“The government’s argument would thus allow a nationwide eviction moratorium long after the COVID-19 pandemic ends,” he wrote. “The eviction remedy could be suspended at any time based on fairness as perceived by Congress or perhaps an agency official delegated that judgment. Such broad authority over state remedies begins to resemble, in operation, a prohibited federal police power.”
“Although the COVID-19 pandemic persists, so does the Constitution,” Barker wrote.
A census survey completed in the first two weeks of February found that nearly half of the 9,231,745 people surveyed said it was “somewhat likely” or “very likely” they would be evicted in the next two months.
The ruling is a victory for property owners who had argued that the moratorium interfered with their ability to run their businesses and was an abuse of government power.
“The CDC attempted to use COVID-19 as an opportunity to grab power, and the court rightfully corrected this egregious overreach,” Robert Henneke, general counsel for the Texas Public Policy Foundation and a lawyer for the plaintiffs, told CNN in a statement.
The case will likely be appealed in the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, The Hill reported.