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The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to allow evictions to resume across the United States, blocking the Biden administration from enforcing a temporary ban that was put in place because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The court's action ends protections for the roughly 3.5 million people in the United States who said they faced eviction in the next two months, according to Census Bureau data from early August.
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The court said late Thursday in an unsigned opinion that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reimposed the moratorium Aug. 3, lacked the authority to do so under federal law without explicit congressional authorization. The justices rejected the administration's arguments in support of the CDC's authority.
"If a federally imposed eviction moratorium is to continue, Congress must specifically authorize it,” the court wrote.
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Three justices dissented. Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the three, pointed to the increase in COVID-19 caused by the delta variant as one of the reasons the court should have left the moratorium in place. “The public interest strongly favors respecting the CDC's judgment at this moment, when over 90 percent of counties are experiencing high transmission rates,” Breyer wrote.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration was “disappointed” by the decision and said President Joe Biden “is once again calling on all entities that can prevent evictions — from cities and states to local courts, landlords, Cabinet agencies — to urgently act to prevent evictions."
Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri, who had camped outside the Capitol as the eviction moratorium expired at the end of last month, said Congress must act to reinstate the protections.