The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Mr. Biden’s eviction moratorium extension is illegal

President Biden at the White House on Aug. 3.
President Biden at the White House on Aug. 3. (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)
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Regarding the Aug. 4 front-page article “Ban on eviction orders is back”:

President Biden’s extension of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium is bad policy pursued by lawless means. It violates alike the rights of millions of property owners and Mr. Biden’s own oath of office. 

The recession is long over, and employment is freely available. So are vaccines. The economic rationale has long been pretextual. A Supreme Court majority has made clear that the moratorium, put over in a power grab by former president Donald Trump’s CDC, has no basis in existing federal authority. 

Having conceded that “the bulk of the constitutional scholarship says that it’s not likely to pass constitutional muster,” Mr. Biden outrageously cited it as a way of stalling: “By the time it gets litigated it will probably give some additional time.” What contempt for law!

It is particularly dangerous to permit the government to invent new legal authority barbed with criminal penalties of $100,000 fines plus a year in jail for landlords who attempt to reclaim what is theirs, even from a purposeful deadbeat.

Small landlords across the country are being expropriated. At what point should we stop assuming that this is merely an incidental and unintended effect of the eviction moratorium?

Walter Olson, Washington

The writer is a senior fellow
at the Cato Institute.