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The federal eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) remains in effect, despite the Federal District Court of Eastern Texas ruling in Terkel v. CDC on February 25 that the vital measure violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Brian M. Boynton, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Civil Division, announced on February 27 that the federal government appealed the harmful decision.

Renters are still protected by the federal eviction moratorium. The district court ruling only applies to the particular landlords and renters in the legal case, and it has no direct impact other renters. Because the case was not brought as a class action, the district court decision is not binding on any other landlords, tenants, or courts.

Moreover, the court’s decision in Terkel v. CDC is deeply flawed. In the court’s analysis of the Commerce Clause, it ignores Supreme Court precedent in Russell v. United States, which found that the regulation of the rental real estate market “unquestionably” falls within the scope of the federal government’s authority. The court also failed to consider the emergency public health powers under which the CDC issued the eviction moratorium.

The Texas case is out of step with how other courts have addressed the eviction moratorium. Of the four federal district courts that have issued decisions relating to the federal eviction moratorium, three have rejected claims by landlord’s that the moratorium was unlawful or unconstitutional. In Brown v. Azar (Northern District of Georgia), the judge denied an injunction brought by landlords, arguing that the CDC’s authority in this case is clear and unambiguous. The judge in Chambliss Enterprises LLC v. Redfield (Western District of Louisiana) stated the CDC’s eviction moratorium “is well supported and falls firmly within the scope of its authority.” In KBW Investment Properties v. Azar (Southern District of Ohio), the judge denied a request for a temporary restraining order, allowing the moratorium to continue to be in effect. All three federal district court judges were appointed by Republican presidents.

While these court cases continue, the federal eviction moratorium remains in effective until March 31. In addition to defending the moratorium in court, the Biden administration must extend, strengthen, and enforce the moratorium to ensure renters can remain stably housed during the pandemic.

Read the court ruling in Terkel v. CDC at:    

Read the announcement by the Department of Justice at: