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Supreme Court protects private property rights
Rick Manning new
Rick Manning is president of the Americans for Limited Government

The Supreme Court is allowing evictions to resume across the United States, blocking the Biden administration from enforcing a temporary ban that was put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The court’s action ends protections for roughly 3.5 million renters in the United States who said they faced eviction in the next two months, according to Census Bureau data from early August.

The court said  in an unsigned opinion that the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, which reimposed the moratorium Aug. 3, lacked the authority to do so under federal law without explicit congressional authorization. The justices rejected the administration’s arguments in support of the CDC’s authority.

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

The U.S. Supreme Court rightly decided that the Center for Disease Control has no authority to arbitrarily extend a prohibition on landlords collecting rents after congressional approval expired.  Large and small landlords still had to pay their mortgages and property taxes on these apartments during the pandemic, and for the federal government to deny them the ability to collect agreed upon payments from renters is a massive taking of  private property. While the Court ended the eviction prohibition because its congressional mandate had expired, the federal law which allowed the temporary confiscation of rental properties by those who refused to pay their agreed upon rent put the full cost and burden of the COVID shutdown on the backs of small, medium and large rental property owners which was manifestly unfair and wrong.

Americans for Limited Government is committed to protecting and supporting private property rights. Any eviction is sad, but what is even more sad is when apartment buildings fall into disrepair, hurting everyone due to federal government actions that push property owners to the brink of bankruptcy due to the denial of revenues from rent collections. Thank goodness the Supreme Court put an end to this arbitrary denial of basic property rights.

It was the second loss for the administration in a week at the hands of the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, Aug. 24 the Court effectively allowed the reinstatement of a Trump-era policy forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their hearings. The new administration had tried to end the “Remain in Mexico” program, as it is informally known.

On evictions, President Joe Biden acknowledged the legal headwinds the new moratorium would likely encounter. But Biden said that even with doubts about what courts would do, it was worth a try because it would buy at least a few weeks of time for the distribution of more of the $46.5 billion in rental assistance Congress had approved.

The Treasury Department said the pace of distribution has increased and nearly a million households have been helped. But only about 11% of the money – just over $5 billion – has been distributed by state and local governments, the department said.

The Biden administration has called on state and local officials to “move more aggressively” in distributing rental assistance funds and urged state and local courts to issue their own moratoriums to “discourage eviction filings” until landlords and tenants have sought the funds.

 Rick Manning is president of Americans for Limited Government in Fairfax, Virginia.