Federal judge blocks CDC’s national eviction moratorium

Feb. 26, 2021 — A federal judge has delivered a potential blow to the national eviction moratorium.
J. Campbell Barker, federal district judge for the Eastern District of Texas who was nominated by President Trump, ruled that the powers granted to the federal government in the Constitution to regulate interstate commerce does not give it the authority to issue a national ban on evictions.

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed in October by a group of Texas landlords who claimed they were owed thousands of dollars in unpaid rent and that the moratorium violated their property rights. It is one of many lawsuits filed in federal courts seeking to overturn the eviction ban.

“No federal law requires that a landlord give possession of a dwelling in the first instance to a person who cannot pay rent,” the judge wrote.

Barker also noted that the federal government’s lawyers were unable to point to any other instance where federal officials had blocked evictions before, including during the Spanish Flu pandemic. “The federal government has not claimed such a power at any point during our Nation’s history until last year.”

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