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Federal Court Strikes Down CDC Eviction Moratorium; What Does It Mean For Bay Area Renters?

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – A federal judge ruled Wednesday the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has no authority to impose a nationwide eviction moratorium, saying the public health agency doesn't have the constitutional right to stop evictions.

In a 20-page ruling, Judge Dabney Friedrich wrote, "Does the Public Health Service Act grant the CDC the legal authority to impose a nationwide eviction moratorium? It does not."

The Department of Justice quickly countered with an appeal, saying in a statement: "The DOJ respectfully disagrees with today's decision … scientific evidence shows evictions exacerbate the spread of COVID-19 … the harm to the public that would result from unchecked evictions cannot be undone."

"There's a plethora of evidence that there's a huge health impact by eviction in normal times, let alone in a pandemic," said Leah Simon-Weisberg, the Legal Director for ACCE, a statewide tenants' rights organization.

"The fact that this is about the CDC one, particularly from a California perspective, it doesn't have the same impact," Simon-Weisberg told KPIX 5.

She points out the federal judge sided with the Alabama Association of Realtors in this ruling.

"That's of note. I think it's important to understand who is trying to make people homeless," Simon-Weisberg said.

Todd Rothbard, an eviction attorney in Santa Clara, also weighed in on the ruling.

"The last thing that landlords want to do is evict. Landlords want to provide housing, but if they're not paid for that housing there won't be housing to rent," he told KPIX 5.

Rothbard said this ruling won't matter in California until the statewide moratorium expires June 30th, that's when he expects landlord-tenant battles will pick up.

"I expect lines around the block to get into small claims court," Rothbard said.

The DOJ is appealing a similar ruling in Texas.

At least six courts have considered various constitutional challenges to the CDC's moratorium.


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