Federal judge rules eviction moratorium is unconstitutional

US District Judge John Barker, who was appointed by then-President Donald Trump to the court in the Eastern District of Texas, stopped short of issuing a preliminary injunction, but said he expected the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to respect his ruling and withdraw the moratorium.
The order, citing the fact that “COVID-19 presents a historic threat to public health,” put a temporary halt on residential evictions.

The property owners, however, argued in their lawsuit that the federal government didn’t have the power to stop evictions.

Barker sided with the property owners, writing in his decision that “although the COVID-19 pandemic persists, so does the Constitution.”

Barker also wrote in his ruling that Congress also lacked the authority to grant the CDC the power to halt evictions nationwide, and noted that the moratorium threatened to encroach on landlords’ rights under state law.

The plaintiffs were represented by two conservative legal groups, the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Southeastern Legal Foundation, which hailed the decision as a win.

“The CDC attempted to use COVID-19 as an opportunity to grab power and the court rightfully corrected this egregious overreach,” Robert Henneke, one of the lawyers in the case and general counsel for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, said in a statement.

The Department of Justice declined to comment when reached by CNN.

It is not clear if the Department of Justice plans to appeal the case.

On January 20, the CDC’s new director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, announced that the agency was extending the order until March 31.

This story has been updated with additional information Thursday.

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