Federal judge keeps eviction moratorium, denies request from landlords

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Federal judge keeps eviction moratorium, denies request from landlords

A federal judge has denied a request from landlords to put the Biden administration’s new eviction moratorium on hold — even though she believes the freeze is illegal.

US District Judge Dabney Friedrich said Friday her “hands are tied” because she doesn’t have the authority to halt the moratorium.

The Alabama and Georgia Association of Realtors filed a federal lawsuit in Washington, DC, last week pushing for evictions to resume after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed the temporary ban was reinstated and would expire Oct. 3.

In a written decision, Friedrich said the CDC’s new temporary ban was “virtually identical” to the version she ruled was illegal back in May.

Friedrich had put that May ruling on hold to give the Biden administration time to appeal.

Now, Friedrich said she was bound to follow a prior appeals court ruling that allowed the initial moratorium to remain in place.

 In this Dec. 11, 2007, file photo commissioner Dabney Friedrich, speaks during the U.S. Sentencing Commission meeting where commission members voted unanimously to allow some 19,500 federal prison inmates, most of them black, to seek reductions in their crack cocaine sentences in Washington.
US District Judge Dabney Friedrich said she did not have the authority to end the moratorium on evictions.
Stephen J. Boitano, FileAP

The group of landlords and realtors is expected to appeal the decision.

If the appeals court doesn’t rule in the group’s favor, it can take its case to the Supreme Court, where Justice Brett Kavanaugh has already indicated he believes the moratorium is illegal.

In June, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to allow the moratorium to remain in place through the end of July.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez talks with Kamala Lyles, 20, during a demonstration outside the U.S. Capitol to protest the expiration of the federal moratorium on residential evictions, in Washington earlier in August.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez talks with Kamala Lyles, 20, during a demonstration outside the US Capitol to protest the expiration of the federal moratorium on residential evictions, in Washington earlier in August.
Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

The Biden administration allowed the earlier moratorium to expire earlier this month after initially saying the Supreme Court’s ruling prevented an extension by the executive branch.

It changed course, however, after facing pressure and criticism from progressives that it was allowing vulnerable renters to lose their homes during a pandemic.

While the old moratorium applied nationwide, the current one only applies in places where there is significant spread of COVID-19.

A sign calling for fighting evictions is set on the ground as Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) spends the night outside the U.S. Capitol to call for for an extension of the federal eviction moratorium on July 31, 2021 in Washington, DC.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended the moratorium for two months in areas where COVID-19 transmission has been high.
Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Friday that the administration believes the CDC moratorium is legal.

“We are pleased that the district court left the moratorium in place, though we are aware that further proceedings in this case are likely,” Psaki said.

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