The filing marks the first challenge in federal court of President Joe Biden’s latest efforts to stop the evictions and comes after the administration allowed the expiration of a previous freeze, sparking anger among members of his own party.
The new moratorium, announced on Tuesday, applies to areas of the country with high or substantial transmission of Covid-19. The new ban is more relevant than the first, but it still covers 80% of US counties and 90% of the US population who are renters.
In Wednesday night’s emergency request, lawyers for the owners said that “in substance and effect” the new moratorium amounts to an “extension” of the “same unlawful ban on evictions that has been in effect since September 2020” . Lawyers accused the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of acting in “bad faith” to “relieve political pressure” on the White House “and of using litigation deadlines to gain more time In order to maintain “the illegal order in place”.
The new case marks the latest turning point in a dispute that ricocheted through the courts as the Delta variant rose. In documents filed Wednesday, lawyers noted that in an unusual press conference on Tuesday, Biden acknowledged that the new moratorium may not pass the legal course.
It was filed with Judge Dabney Friedrich, a Trump-appointed person who sits in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
In May, Friedrich ruled that the CDC had overstepped its authority in allowing the previous moratorium, but she agreed to put its decision on hold pending appeal. An appeals court allowed the moratorium to continue, as did a 5-4 split Supreme Court at the end of June.
In the end, five justices, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the Liberal side, rejected a request to lift the suspension.
Most importantly, Kavanaugh, serving as the deciding vote, said he believed that after the moratorium expired on July 31, “clear and specific authorization from Congress (via new legislation) would be needed for the CDC to extend the moratorium ”.
Now the owners are returning to district court arguing that the new moratorium is just an extension of the previous one and should be blocked.
“Judge Kavanaugh’s dominant opinion made it clear that the CDC could not extend the moratorium beyond July 31 in the absence of new legislation,” Shumate said.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak, Kaitlin Collins, Phil Mattingly, John Harwood, and Maggie Fox contributed to this report.