The federal government suffered a legal blow this week.
A federal judge in Ohio ruled Wednesday that the order from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to halt evictions during the coronavirus exceeded its authority, Fox News reported.
As noted by Cleveland.com, the decision is being celebrated as a win for landlords who have suffered financially during the pandemic. “Your home is supposed to be your biggest asset, and now it’s our greatest liability,” Cleveland landlord Monique Moore told Cleveland 19.
In September 2020, the CDC ordered the “temporary halt” of evictions to “prevent the further spread of COVID-19.”
The agency stated in the order that “eviction moratoria — like quarantine, isolation, and social distancing – can be an effective public health measure utilized to prevent the spread of communicable disease.” The agency explained:
Eviction moratoria facilitate self-isolation by people who become ill or who are at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 due to an underlying health condition. They allow state and local authorities to more easily implement stay-at-home and social distancing directives to mitigate the community spread of COVID-19. Furthermore, housing stability helps protect public health because homelessness increases the likelihood of individuals moving into close quarters in congregate settings, such as homeless shelters, which then puts individuals at higher risk to COVID-19.
Former President Donald Trump first signed the CDC’s order in September and President Joe Biden extended the moratorium until March 31, Fox News reported.
Landlords across the country have been challenging the CDC’s order. This particular case was brought against the CDC by the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) and a group of property owners from across northern Ohio.
“Saddling landlords with the responsibility to provide free rent during this pandemic ignores their financial obligations and ability to provide safe, decent and affordable housing,” Chuck Fowke, chairman of the NAHB, said, as Fox News reported. “Even during emergencies, federal agencies must abide by the law.”
U.S. District Judge J. Philip Calabrese, who was nominated to the court by former President Trump, ruled in favor of the NAHB and property owners, issuing a decision that states that the CDC’s order is illegal. The judge specifically ruled that the CDC exceeded the authority given to it by the federal Public Health Service Act.
However, Calabrese “did not grant an injunction that would have stopped the CDC from enforcing the moratorium,” Cleveland.com reported.
In Texas only weeks ago, U.S. District Judge J. Campbell Barker also ruled that the CDC’s order is unconstitutional.
The Department of Justice is appealing the Texas decision.