Remember the pandemic, when for just a second it seemed as though there were orders in place to keep landlords from booting desperate people out on the street? (Of course landlords could still keep a running tally of how much to bleed out of them as soon as they were given the governmental all-clear.) Well, pandemic’s over folks, at least according to a federal judge who ruled it was never fair to mandate compassion in the first place.
A Washington D.C. U.S. District Judge named Dabney Friedrich—by parents who must have known he would grow up to act like a Victorian villain—has declared that the CDC never had the authority to order a nationwide moratorium eviction, due to expire on June 30, according to The Washington Post:
“It is the role of the political branches, and not the courts, to assess the merits of policy measures designed to combat the spread of disease, even during a global pandemic,” Judge Friedrich’s order reads. “The question for the Court is a narrow one: Does the Public Health Service Act grant the CDC the legal authority to impose a nationwide eviction moratorium? It does not.”
Though the Biden administration will most likely appeal the decision and perhaps win the right to prolong the moratorium until a final decision has been reached, the moratorium was always pretty murky and weird, allowing judges to decide willy-nilly who stayed and who went:
“Practically, all these decisions have already made it so the CDC protection is basically a lottery ticket for tenants,” Eric Dunn, director of litigation for the National Housing Law Project, told the Post. “If you qualify you can sign the declaration and it may protect you or it may not. The judge may decide it applies to you or her or she may decide it does not.”
But experts do warn that with one in seven American renters reporting that they are behind on their payments, opening the “eviction floodgates” before the $46 billion earmarked for eviction prevention could be fucking disastrous and deadly for a country only just starting to show tentative movements towards recovery. But obviously, especially if one is a federal judge, the most important people to remember in all this are the real victims: the landlords.