The latest moratorium was announced by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this month, days after the administration allowed a previous freeze on evictions to expire on July 31. Before the new moratorium — which applies to areas of the country with high or substantial transmission of Covid-19 — was announced, several top Biden administration officials said they did not think it would be upheld by the Supreme Court but were willing to try it.
President Joe Biden suggested earlier this month that potential litigation would buy the government time to disperse rental assistance from Covid relief funds.
“It will probably give some additional time while we’re getting that $45 billion out to people who are, in fact, behind in the rent and don’t have the money,” he told reporters.
When the Supreme Court considered the earlier moratorium in June, it voted 5-4 against blocking it. But Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a swing vote at the time in favor of the moratorium, indicated he would vote to block the moratorium if it were extended beyond its July 31 expiration date.
In this most recent phase of the litigation, the landlord groups pointed to Kavanaugh’s concurring opinion to argue that the DC Circuit should reverse an order it handed down in June that let the moratorium continue.
Last week, US District Judge Dabney Friedrich said she couldn’t block the moratorium because of that previous order, even as she had major doubts about the moratorium’s legality.
This story has been updated with additional background.