Justice Dept. to appeal judge’s order on eviction moratorium

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WASHINGTON (AP) – The Justice Department said on Saturday it would appeal a judge’s ruling that found the federal government’s moratorium on evictions unconstitutional.

Prosecutors filed a notice in the case on Saturday night, saying he is appealing the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

U.S. District Judge J. Campbell Barker on Thursday ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevented had exceeded their authority and that the moratorium was illegal.

“Although the COVID-19 pandemic persists, so does the Constitution,” the judge wrote.

The moratorium on CDC evictions was signed in September by President Donald Trump and extended by President Joe Biden until March 31.

Barker, who was appointed by Trump in 2018 to serve in the Eastern District of Texas, has refrained from issuing an injunction in the case. Several landowners had filed a lawsuit arguing that the federal government did not have the legal authority to stop the evictions.

“The federal government cannot say that it has already used its power over interstate commerce to impose a moratorium on residential evictions,” Barker wrote. “He didn’t do it during the deadly Spanish flu pandemic. He also did not invoke such power during the demands of the Great Depression. The federal government did not claim such power at any time in our nation’s history until last year.

State and local governments approved moratoriums on evictions at the start of the pandemic for many tenants, but many of those protections have already expired.

To be eligible for coverage, renters must have an income of $ 198,000 or less for couples filing jointly, or $ 99,000 for single filers; demonstrate that they have requested government assistance to pay the rent; say they cannot pay due to the hardships of COVID-19; and assert that they are likely to become homeless if evicted.

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