Eviction Ban Reflects Government ‘Gamesmanship,’ Judge Says

  • Judge has yet to rule on bid by landlords to overturn the ban

A federal judge in Washington said the Biden administration engaged in “gamesmanship” last week by extending an eviction moratorium in areas hit hard by Covid-19 even after the Supreme Court indicated that only Congress could do so.

At a hearing on Monday, U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich expressed skepticism over the new ban, which was designed to curb the spread of the Delta variant. Landlord groups have challenged the policy, arguing that the administration bowed to political pressure even though it knew the eviction freeze wouldn’t pass muster with the courts.

A previous nationwide moratorium, which expired July 31, had survived a similar challenge by landlords after the Supreme Court in June upheld it in a 5-4 decision. But Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who cast the pivotal vote, argued at the time that any extension would require legislative action.

“It’s really hard in light of the Supreme Court’s decision,” Friedrich said, “to conclude that there’s not a degree of gamesmanship going on.”

The judge said she would rule “in the near future” on the request by landlords to overturn the new moratorium, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention set to last until Oct. 3.

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