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3 Aug, 2021 22:12

CDC issues new moratorium on US evictions to get around Supreme Court ban on previous one

CDC issues new moratorium on US evictions to get around Supreme Court ban on previous one

In a move President Joe Biden admitted might be an end-run around the US Constitution, the federal health authority has imposed a new 60-day moratorium on evictions, as Democrats who failed to pass it in Congress cheered.

Announced on Tuesday afternoon, the new measure bans evictions in counties with high rate of Covid-19 transmission – the same counties where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are currently mandating even the vaccinated Americans wear face masks – and covers about 90% of renters in the US. It is expected to last for 60 days.

Even before the CDC made it official, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) announced the details in an email to reporters. He credited Congresswoman Cori Bush (D-Missouri), who has camped out on the Capitol steps since Saturday in a publicity stunt intended to draw attention to the issue.

Bush, a Black Lives Matter activist from St. Louis who was elected to her first term in November, launched her protest after the House of Representatives adjourned last Friday without voting on a moratorium bill. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) tried to blame Republicans for somehow blocking the Democrat majority from passing a bill in the House.

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On Tuesday morning, Bush argued that the White House should defy the Supreme Court – which ruled the original CDC moratorium unconstitutional – and impose another ban, even if it’s overturned later.

In a press conference later in the day, President Biden admitted that’s precisely what his administration was doing, saying he didn’t order the CDC, but consulted with constitutional scholars to see what was possible.

The existing moratorium was clearly unconstitutional and couldn’t be extended, Biden said, but argued a new one would have to be litigated from scratch, which would give his administration time to disburse the billions in aid earmarked for renters and landlords.

Biden’s argument caught the eye of constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley, who described it as “astonishing.”

“The President expressly acknowledged that they would seek a likely unconstitutional program hoping to get money out the door before the court killed the program,” Turley wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Rep. Bush was doing a victory lap, saying her action “moved mountains” and basking in the praise from her fellow lawmakers – including Pelosi herself, who praised the “powerful action” and said “All Democrats know that inaction is not an option.”

Another high-ranking Democrat, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-California), had urged the CDC on Monday to simply ignore the Supreme Court and extend the old ban.  

“Who is going to stop them? Who is going to penalize them? There is no official ruling saying that they cannot extend this moratorium,” Waters tweeted, adding, “have a heart! Just do it!”

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