Biden Admin Asks SCOTUS to Uphold Eviction Ban, Citing 'Ten-Fold' Increase in COVID Cases

The Biden administration is asking the Supreme Court to leave its eviction moratorium in place, citing the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country.

Lawyers for the Department of Justice wrote in a court filing Monday that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was acting within its authority when it extended the eviction ban through October 3 after it expired at the end of July.

The moratorium has been challenged by landlords and real estate associations from Alabama and Georgia. The groups argue that the ban exceeds the authority Congress gave to the CDC.

Last week, a federal appeals court refused the landlord and realtors' request to put the federal eviction moratorium on hold. The groups are now asking the Supreme Court to step in to allow evictions to resume.

It's the second time the Supreme Court has considered the eviction moratorium. The high court refused to block an earlier ban in June in a 5-to-4 decision. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was in the majority in the decision, said at the time that any other extensions of the ban would need "clear and specific congressional authorization."

The government defended the moratorium in its court filing on Monday, stating that it's necessary given the surge in coronavirus cases due to the prevalence of the highly contagious Delta variant.

"The trajectory of the pandemic has since changed -- unexpectedly, dramatically, and for the worse," the Justice Department wrote. "As of August 19, 2021, the seven-day average of daily new cases is 130,926, nearly a ten-fold increase over the rate when this Court ruled. ... Projections suggest that case rates will continue to rise in the coming weeks."

The lawyers added that the coronavirus "is one of the deadliest outbreaks of disease in human history."

Biden Asks SCOTUS to Allow Eviction Ban
The Biden administration is asking the Supreme Court to leave its eviction moratorium in place, citing the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country. In this photo, activists hold a protest against evictions near City Hall on August 11, 2021 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The CDC's order temporarily halts evictions in counties with "substantial and high levels" of COVID-19 transmissions. About 90 percent of the U.S. population is estimated to be protected under the order.

As of July 5, roughly 3.6 million Americans said they faced eviction in the next two months, according to the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey.

A poll conducted by Morning Consult found roughly half of voters support the latest moratorium on. Three-quarters of Democrats backed the CDC's order, compared with one-third Republicans.

But a plurality of voters (45 percent) agreed that the CDC shouldn't have the authority to issue the eviction moratorium.

President Joe Biden acknowledged the CDC's moratorium extension was "likely to face obstacles" but noted that "by the time it gets litigated, it will probably give some additional time" for state officials to disburse the $46 billion passed by the federal government in rental assistance.

Newsweek reached out to the Alabama and Georgia real estate associations for comment on the Biden administration's court filing, but didn't receive a response before publication.