Biden administration to appeal eviction moratorium ruling

FILE PHOTO: Los Angeles Sheriff's Deputies wait for a woman to collect her possessions as they carry out an eviction order, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 13, 2021. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department said on Saturday it will appeal a judge’s ruling that the nationwide eviction moratorium during the COVID-19 pandemic is unlawful.

The measure authorized by Congress and issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention covers most residential evictions in an effort to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. A federal judge in Texas ruled on Thursday that Congress did not have the power to authorize the moratorium under the U.S. Constitution.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton said in a statement in addition to the health benefits, the moratorium “protects many renters who cannot make their monthly payments due to job loss or health care expenses.”

Siding with a group of landlords and property owners challenging the evictions freeze, U.S. District Judge J. Campbell Barker ruled Congress exceeded its authority under two provisions of the Constitution.

Boynton noted that the judge’s ruling only applies to the plaintiffs who sued in that particular case meaning that the moratorium remains in effect everywhere else.

The moratorium order was issued in September under President Donald Trump and extended on Jan. 21, the day after President Joe Biden took office, to run at least another two months.

Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Leslie Adler and Cynthia Osterman