Texas federal judge rules that national moratorium on evictions is unconstitutional
Judge John Barker, a Trump appointee, sided with landlords and property owners who sued to stop the moratorium.
A federal judge has ruled that the national moratorium on evictions instituted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge John Barker did not issue an injunction; however, the Donald Trump appointee said he expected the CDC to respect his ruling.
“The federal government cannot say that it has ever before invoked its power over interstate commerce to impose a residential eviction moratorium,” Barker wrote in his ruling. “It did not do so during the deadly Spanish Flu pandemic. Nor did it invoke such a power during the exigencies of the Great Depression. The federal government has not claimed such a power at any point during our Nation’s history until last year.”
While the coronavirus pandemic persists, he contended, “so does the Constitution.”
Landlords in Texas filed the lawsuit against the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services weeks after the Trump administration issued the Eviction Moratorium Order in September. The CDC said that “COVID-19 presents a historic threat to public health,” and the order lasted through December 31. It was later extended by President Joe Biden‘s administration through March 2021.
Barker sided with the landlords and property owners, saying the national moratorium encroached on states’ rights.
Under the order, rent is not canceled for tenants, and they can be evicted after the moratorium ends if they still can’t pay their back rent. Tenants also have to present a signed declaration stating that they meet specific financial requirements and that they have made every effort to find assistance to pay.
The Wall Street Journal shared an article for landlords advising them to work with tenants and also to not engage in activities like turning off utilities or locking them out of properties. Additionally, it shared that there are various programs in place to help them with mortgage payments during the pandemic.
The latest data from the end of 2020 says that more than 12 million renters in this country are at least $5,000 behind in rent and utility payments due to the coronavirus pandemic — which has killed over 508,000 within these borders.