Federal judge rules eviction moratorium is unconstitutional

A federal judge in Texas on Thursday ruled that the federal moratorium on evictions is unconstitutional, according to court documents.

In October, a group of Texas landlords and property owners sued the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services over the Eviction Moratorium Order that was issued by the Trump administration in September.

The order, citing the fact that “COVID-19 presents a historic threat to public health,” put a temporary halt on residential evictions.

The property owners, however, argued in their lawsuit that the federal government didn’t have the power to stop evictions.

US District Judge John Barker, who was appointed by then-President Donald Trump to the court in the Eastern District of Texas, sided with the property owners, writing in his decision that “although the COVID-19 pandemic persists, so does the Constitution.”

Barker also wrote in his ruling that Congress also lacked the authority to grant the CDC the power to halt evictions nationwide, and noted that the moratorium threatened to encroach on landlords’ rights under state law.

The plaintiffs were represented by two conservative legal groups, the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Southeastern Legal Foundation, which hailed the decision as a win.

“The CDC attempted to use COVID-19 as an opportunity to grab power and the court rightfully corrected this egregious overreach,” Robert Henneke, one of the lawyers in the case and general counsel for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, said in a statement.

CNN has reached out to the Department of Justice attorneys who handled the case for a comment.

It is not clear if the Department of Justice plans to appeal the case.

On January 20, the CDC’s new director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, announced that the agency was extending the order until March 31.

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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