On March 15, 20121, a federal judge for the Middle District of Tennessee ruled that the Centers for Disease Control’s nationwide eviction moratorium is illegal and unenforceable. Three federal judges have now ruled that the moratorium is illegal, while two federal judges in other jurisdictions have upheld the moratorium. As a result, the eviction moratorium is now unenforceable in parts of Ohio, Texas, and Tennessee but was declared lawful in districts covering parts of Georgia and Louisiana.
At issue in each of these lawsuits is whether the CDC has exceeded its congressionally-granted authority to “make and enforce such regulations…necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries into the States…or from one State…into another State.” In ruling against enforceability, Judge Mark Norris concluded that allowing the CDC to issue the eviction moratorium would be an unconstitutional delegation of authority by Congress and that the CDC is limited to those specific examples listed in the congressionally-granted authority.
For example, the CDC, through the Surgeon General, has the powers to “…provide for such inspection, fumigation, disinfection, sanitation, pest extermination, destruction of animals or articles found to be so infected or contaminated as to be sources of dangerous infections to human beings, and other measures, as in his judgment may be necessary.” The CDC argued that the phrase “and other measures” supports the enactment of the eviction moratorium; however, the judge found the “and other measures” language was to be limited to the specific examples previously listed.
The CDC’s eviction moratorium was set to expire on March 31, 2021, but was just extended by the CDC Director until June 30, 2021. With this additional extension, the underlying scope of the CDC’s authority at issue in these cases may eventually require that the Supreme Court issue a definitive ruling. Accordingly, KDDK will continue to monitor the legality of the CDC moratorium and its effects on residential landlords.
Please contact Michael DiRienzo or Matt Malcom or any member of the KDDK business law team for additional information and guidance on the CDC moratorium or any related matter.