US Supreme Court blocks Joe Biden’s eviction moratorium.

The US Supreme Court has rejected the Biden administration’s latest moratorium on evictions, ending a political and legal dispute during the Covid-19 crisis in which the administration’s shifting positions had subjected it to criticism from adversaries and allies alike.

The court issued an eight-page majority opinion, an unusual move in a ruling on an application for emergency relief, where terse orders are more common. The court’s three liberal justices dissented.

The decision puts hundreds of thousands of tenants at risk of losing shelter, while the administration struggles to speed the flow of billions of dollars in federal funding to people who are behind in rent because of the economic hardship associated with the pandemic.

Only about $5.1 billion of the $46.5 billion in aid had been disbursed by the end of July, according to figures released this week, as bureaucratic delays at the state and local levels delayed payouts.

The majority opinion, which was unsigned, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had exceeded its authority.

Strains credulity

“The CDC has imposed a nationwide moratorium on evictions in reliance on a decades-old statute that authorizes it to implement measures like fumigation and pest extermination,” the opinion said. “It strains credulity to believe that this statute grants the CDC the sweeping authority that it asserts.”

Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the three dissenting justices, faulted the court for its haste during a public health crisis.

“These questions call for considered decision-making, informed by full briefing and argument,” he wrote. “Their answers impact the health of millions. We should not set aside the CDC’s eviction moratorium in this summary proceeding.”

The majority said the issues were fully considered and straightforward. “It is indisputable that the public has a strong interest in combating the spread of the Covid-19 Delta variant,” the opinion said. “But our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends.”

“If a federally imposed eviction moratorium is to continue,” the opinion said, “Congress must specifically authorize it.”

Public interest

In dissent, Justice Breyer wrote that “the public interest is not favoured by the spread of disease or a court’s second-guessing of the CDC’s judgment.”

The Biden administration and other moratorium proponents predicted that the decision would set off a wave of dire consequences.

“As a result of this ruling, families will face the painful impact of evictions, and communities across the country will face greater risk of exposure to Covid-19,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said in a statement.

The ruling also renewed pressure on congressional Democrats to try to extend the freeze over the opposition of Republicans.

“Tonight, the Supreme Court failed to protect the 11 million households across our country from violent eviction in the middle of a deadly global pandemic,” said Demoncrat representative Cori Bush, who slept on the steps of the Capitol this month to protest the expiration of the previous moratorium.

“We already know who is going to bear the brunt of this disastrous decision, black and brown communities, and especially black women.”

But landlords, who have said the moratoriums saddled them with billions of dollars in debt, hailed the move.

Debt tsunami

“The government must move past failed policies and begin to seriously address the nation’s debt tsunami, which is crippling both renters and housing providers alike,” said Bob Pinnegar, the president of the National Apartment Association, a trade association representing large landlords.

It will most likely take a while for the backlog of eviction cases in many states to result in the displacement of renters. But tenant groups in the south, where fast-track evictions are common, are bracing for the worst.

In recent days, Mr Biden’s team has been mapping out strategies to deal with the likely loss of the moratorium, with a plan to focus its efforts on a handful of states including South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Ohio where there are large backlogs of unpaid rent and few statewide protections for tenants. - New York Times

The Irish Times

The Irish Times online. Latest news including sport, analysis, business, weather and more from the definitive brand of quality news in Ireland.

https://www.irishtimes.com/

Alok Sharma says UK's security pact with US and Australia 'isn't about provoking anyone'.

Alok Sharma says UK's security pact with US and Australia 'isn't about provoking anyone'.

COP-26 President Alok Sharma says the UK's security pact with the US and Australia "isn't about provoking anyone" despite prompting a diplomatic row with France. Mr Sharma also suggests it won't harm his chances of striking a climate deal. SUBSCRI...

Justice for J6 rally - Four arrests at protest outside Capitol in Washington DC.

Justice for J6 rally - Four arrests at protest outside Capitol in Washington DC.

FOUR people were arrested at the "Justice for J6" rally in Washington DC outside the Capitol. Fences were put up around DC in anticipation of the event, with cops taking no chances after the violent scenes on January 6. The insurrection in January...

Coups in Mali, Chad & Guinea: Is democracy at risk in West Africa? - DW News.

Coups in Mali, Chad & Guinea: Is democracy at risk in West Africa? - DW News.

ECOWAS is getting tough with Guinea: After the military coup there, the Economic Community of West African States has imposed travel bans and financial sanctions on the country's new leaders and their families. At a summit in Ghana Ecowas leaders ...

BREAKING: Tottenham and England legend Jimmy Greaves has died.

BREAKING: Tottenham and England legend Jimmy Greaves has died.

Tottenham Hotspur and England legend Jimmy Greaves has died aged 81. During an illustrious playing career, the striker scored 382 times in 579 club appearances. Greaves was part of England's 1966 World Cup winning squad, and remains fourth on the ...

Green MP defends 'legitimate' disruption of M25 motorway by climate protesters.

Green MP defends 'legitimate' disruption of M25 motorway by climate protesters.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has defended what she described as "legitimate" disruption of the M25 motorway by climate protesters. She told Trevor Phillips: "As long as it is non-violent then I think we need to understand why protesters have take...

In full: Trevor Phillips on Sunday

In full: Trevor Phillips on Sunday

Sky's Trevor Phillips talks to COP 26 Chairman Alok Sharma and Labour's Pat McFadden over gas price concerns and the government's reshuffle ahead of the summit in Edinburgh along with its levelling up agenda. Other guests on the show include scien...