In March of 2020, the CDC issued a nationwide moratorium eviction due to the economic downturn caused by Covid-19. This is where landlords can't evict their tenants based on their tenants' inability to pay rent, however, the rent would keep adding up and would need to be paid once the moratorium has elapsed. The moratorium was supposed to end on July 31, 2021, yet somehow it still lives...
Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh issued an opinion on June 29 where he argued for not vacating the eviction moratorium as it would supposedly end in a month and ending it so abruptly would unsettle landlords and tenants. But for the future, he said in that "congressional authorization... would be necessary for the CDC to extend the moratorium past July 31, 2021."
But what happened was unconstitutional, to say the least. President Biden and the CDC in continuing the moratorium not only "flatly rejected" Justice Kavaungh's opinion, but the rulings of six other federal courts, according to Charles C.W Cook, a senior writer at the National Review. The power to unilaterally act as Biden did is a power that the constitution does not vest in the president. And further, John Yoo, a legal scholar tells us that it is "rare for a president to undertake an action that the Supreme Court has just found illegal."
So how did this constitutional override transpire and what are Biden and the CDC's grounds?
President Andrew Jackson once said: “The Congress, the Executive, and the Court must each for itself be guided by its own opinion of the Constitution.” Meaning, government organs should form their own interpretations of the constitution. So no; by unilaterally extending the moratorium, Biden did not commit the egregious crime that Republicans paint it to be. He is entitled to "hold an interpretation of the law that is at odds with the courts" and act with the people's best interest in mind, which is arguably what he did.
But of course, the Biden administration's legal arguments weren't sound. They propounded how the use of their executive power to "enter the field of landlord-tenant relations..." was because the eviction moratoriums ostensibly fell under "other measures." However, the legal term ejusdem generis holds that an "ambiguous item in a list should... have the same character as the items of a list." So as John Yoo cleverly says, "if your spouse sends you to the grocery store for eggs, milk, a can of soup, and “anything else you need,” a reasonable interpreter does not have authority to go out and buy a Tesla.
But the worry and disbelief from conservatives continue. They are afraid that the Biden Administration's interpretation would not only set a thorny legal precedent but transfer too much power to the CDC; so they could potentially do anything in the name of public health during the pandemic. Even the U.S Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit said how if the CDC's and Biden's constitutional interpretations were correct, "the [CDC] would have near-dictatorial power for the duration of the pandemic, with authority to shut down entire industries as freely as [it] could ban evictions."
Now hold your horses, Conservatives. Personally, while the Biden Administration's constitutional standpoint isn't quite strong, the fact of the matter is, they are simply trying to help out the dismal working-class people of America who have no money to pay rent because they have no job.
John Yoo elucidates how Conservative legal scholars view Biden's extension of the eviction moratorium as "overreaching" and a subversion of executive power that disregards the rule of law and the constitution.
On Jan. 21, Biden took an oath to "take care that the laws are faithfully executed." Conservatives believe he has violated that oath. Unsurprisingly, yes, the controversy regarding the eviction moratorium has become hyper-partisan in the U.S with Conservatives blowing the issue out of proportion and the Biden administration disregarding democratic processes and the Supreme Court.
So how do you square the constitutional infractions with what's good for the whole of American society?