Nate Jackson / August 27, 2021

SCOTUS Rebukes Biden for Eviction Ban

The justices got it right this time, slamming the CDC’s abuse of power.

A president like Joe Biden is never content with merely one constitutional offense. No, if you’re willing to shred our nation’s credibility and leave 13 American troops dead because of dereliction of duty as commander-in-chief, you’re probably not bothered by other niceties like constitutional authority for pandemic mandates.

Take the CDC’s unconstitutional eviction moratorium, for example. The Supreme Court finally struck it down in a 6-3 ruling Thursday, but how did we get here?

The offense began with Congress. As part of its initial COVID relief efforts, Congress passed a temporary moratorium on home rental evictions to protect those who had lost their jobs due to the tanking economy. Money was allocated to pay landlords on behalf of tenants. By the time the moratorium expired in July 2020, however, Donald Trump told the CDC to renew it, and it was extended multiple times by both Trump and Biden.

In June of this year, the Supreme Court got it wrong, ruling that though the CDC didn’t have the authority for the moratorium, it was nearly expired anyway and Congress had allocated money that still needed time for dispersal.

How much money? Well, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that “just $4.7 billion of almost $47 billion appropriated by Congress had reached tenants and landlords through July.” Nothing like the efficiency of government.

In early August, Biden extended the moratorium again (albeit a very slightly less expansive version) despite the Court’s June ruling that Congress must do the extending, and the case naturally made it back before the justices. The CDC’s lawyers argued that the agency’s “legal authority goes all the way to getting transmission to zero.” Moreover, “Just because that’s not factually an option doesn’t mean that they don’t have the legal authority to try.”

The Biden administration assumed the power to confine people to their own homes in order to argue that landlords can’t evict them. “It would be strange to hold that the government may combat infection by prohibiting the tenant from leaving his home,” the White House brief said, “but not by prohibiting the landlord from throwing him out.”

Could there be a more unlimited view of power?

Fortunately, this time, the justices got it right.

“It would be one thing if Congress had specifically authorized the action that the CDC has taken. But that has not happened,” the unsigned majority said. “Instead, the CDC has imposed a nationwide moratorium on evictions in reliance on a decades-old statute that authorizes it to implement measures like fumigation and pest extermination. It strains credulity to believe that this statute grants the CDC the sweeping authority that it asserts.”

No less a constitutional scholar than Joe Biden himself had already said upon his latest extension that “the bulk of the constitutional scholars say it’s not likely to pass constitutional muster.” It didn’t, even if more than a year too late.

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