Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lacked the authority to unilaterally extend a moratorium on evictions for American renters.
Despite that ruling, the Biden administration announced this week that a new moratorium would be imposed after the previous order expired at the end of July.
“This is a different moratorium”
According to the Washington Examiner, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki attempted to defend the move in her remarks to reporters on Wednesday.
“The justification, from the legal team, is that this is a different moratorium,” she said.
Specifically, Psaki described the new order as “narrow” and “targeted at the areas highest impacted” by rising COVID-19 infection rates, noting that it “is not an extension of the national moratorium.”
Of course, President Joe Biden seemed to contradict the claim that it would be “narrow” in scope when he declared the previous day that it would cover “close to 90%” of American renters.
“Whether that option will pass constitutional muster with this administration, I can’t tell you,” the president acknowledged in his remarks on Tuesday. “But, at a minimum, by the time it gets litigated, it will probably give some additional time while we’re getting that $45 billion out to people who are, in fact, behind in the rent and don’t have the money.”
“Clear and specific”
Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote the court’s opinion in June, arguing that any moratorium extension must be approved in the legislative branch.
“In my view, clear and specific congressional authorization (via new legislation) would be necessary for the CDC to extend the moratorium past July 31,” Kavanaugh wrote at the time.
Fox News Channel personality Tucker Carlson asserted on Wednesday that establishing such an order falls outside of the CDC’s mandate.
“The CDC is not a legislative body, it’s a public health bureau,” he said. “It was originally designed to fight malaria, and it did a good job. The CDC now gathers information about disease and releases guidance those diseases to the public, that’s what it does.”
Nevertheless, he echoed Kavanaugh’s assessment in declaring that the CDC is “not allowed to” establish laws, concluding: “Under the U.S. Constitution, making laws is the exclusive role of the Congress; you vote for your congressmen and senators, and they decide what the rules are.”