WASHINGTON, Aug 23 (Reuters) - President Joe Biden's administration on Monday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to leave in place a COVID-19 pandemic-related federal ban on residential evictions while the justices consider a challenge by landlord groups to the ban's legality.
In a court filing, U.S. Justice Department lawyers said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acted within its lawful authority this month when it renewed the moratorium through Oct. 3 after it had lapsed at the end of July.
Groups representing landlords have sought to lift the moratorium, pointing out that even Biden administration officials have conceded it may not be lawful.
The CDC first issued an eviction moratorium in September 2020, with agency officials saying the policy was needed to combat the spread of COVID-19 and prevent homelessness during the pandemic.
Realtor groups in Alabama and Georgia were among those challenging the moratorium.
Under heavy political pressure from Biden's fellow Democrats, his administration on Aug. 3 issued a slightly narrower eviction moratorium three days after the prior one expired. Biden initially had said that congressional action was needed to renew the moratorium, but his administration reversed course.
The current moratorium, due to expire in October, covers nearly 92% of U.S. counties, but that could change based on COVID-19 conditions.