The DOJ says it will appeal after a Trump-appointed judge struck down a federal eviction moratorium
Housing activists gather in Massachusetts in October. Michael Dwyer / AP Photo
DOJ lawyers said Saturday they would appeal a ruling lifting the US eviction moratorium.
The moratorium "helps slow the spread of COVID-19," said Brian M. Boynton, DOJ attorney.
A Trump-appointed judge said Thursday the federal moratorium was illegal.
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The Justice Department said Saturday it would appeal a judge's decision breaking the federal eviction moratorium on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On Thursday, US District Judge John Barker of the Eastern District of Texas said the creation of such a moratorium "criminalizes the use of state judicial processes to defend property rights."
In a 21-page summary judgment, Barker, a Trump agent, said the moratorium was unconstitutional. Giving the federal government such "broad authority" over state judicial proceedings was akin to "banning the federal police force," wrote Barker.
"While the COVID-19 pandemic persists, so does the Constitution," he added.
DOJ prosecutors filed a notice Saturday stating they would appeal Barker's verdict to the U.S. appeals court.
Brian M. Boynton, DOJ Assistant Assistant Attorney General, said: "The Justice Department respectfully opposes the District Court's decision of the 25th February that the CDC's eviction moratorium exceeds the powers of Congress under the trade clause and necessity and in the Terkel v. CDC case the correct clause, and the department has appealed that decision. "
Housing activists erect a sign outside the home of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker in Swampscott, Mass. Michael Dwyer / AP Photo
Boynton said: "However, the decision does not go beyond the individual plaintiffs in this case and does not prohibit the application of the CDC's eviction moratorium on other parties. For other landlords who rent to insured persons, the CDC's eviction moratorium remains in effect. "
President Donald Trump signed the CDC eviction moratorium in September.
"I want to make it unmistakably clear that I protect people from evictions," he said in a statement at the time.
Congress extended the moratorium in December and held it until President Joe Biden's term began. At the time, nearly 6 million Americans were facing eviction or foreclosure. According to the US Census Bureau, about 18 million people in the United States have been behind schedule with their rent or mortgage payments. CNN reported that evictions affected a disproportionately large number of people of color.
On his first day in office in January, Biden signed an executive order extending the moratorium until the end of March.
In his statement on Saturday, Boynton said, "By preventing people from becoming homeless or moving into overcrowded homes, the moratorium is helping to slow the spread of COVID-19."
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