The Supreme Court’s conservative majority is allowing evictions to resume across the United States, blocking the Biden administration from enforcing a temporary ban that was put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The court’s action ends protections for roughly 3.5 million people in the United States who said they faced eviction in the next two months, according to Census Bureau data from early August.
The court said late Thursday in an unsigned opinion that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reimposed the moratorium Aug. 3, lacked the authority to do so under federal law without explicit congressional authorization. The justices rejected the administration’s arguments in support of the CDC’s authority.
“If a federally imposed eviction moratorium is to continue, Congress must specifically authorize it,” the court wrote.
The three liberal justices dissented. Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the three, pointed to the increase in COVID-19 caused by the delta variant as one of the reasons the court should have left the moratorium in place. “The public interest strongly favours respecting the CDC’s judgment at this moment, when over 90 per cent of counties are experiencing high transmission rates,” Breyer wrote.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration was “disappointed” by the decision and said U.S. President Joe Biden “is once again calling on all entities that can prevent evictions — from cities and states to local courts, landlords, Cabinet Agencies — to urgently act to prevent evictions.”
Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., who had camped outside the Capitol as the eviction moratorium expired at the end of last month, said Congress must act to reinstate the protections.
U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, a Democrat, who fought for a ban on residential evictions, is seen thanking demonstrators on Capitol Hill earlier this month. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)
The earlier versions of the moratorium, first ordered during Trump’s presidency, applied nationwide and were put in place out of fear that people who couldn’t pay their rent would end up in crowded living conditions like homeless shelters and help spread the virus.
The new moratorium temporarily halted evictions in counties with “substantial and high levels” of virus transmissions and would cover areas where 90 per cent of the U.S. population lives.
The Biden administration argued that the rise in the delta variant underscored the dangers of resuming evictions in areas of high transmission of COVID-19. But that argument did not win broad support at the high court.
-From The Associated Press, last updated at 7 a.m. ET
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As of early Friday morning, more than 214.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 case tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.4 million.
In the Americas, Argentine prosecutors have charged President Alberto Fernandez with allegedly breaking a mandatory quarantine, local media reported, when he and his partner hosted a birthday party last year with friends.
In Africa, South Africa will this weekend receive 2.2 million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses donated by the United States to add to the 5.6 million doses it received from that country in July. The new doses come as the country continues to battle an extended resurgence of COVID-19 infections and is racing to vaccinate 67 per cent of its 60 million people by February next year.
South Africa has already purchased 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The country has also bought 31 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which are being delivered in large shipments from overseas and from a manufacturing plant in South Africa.
South Africa has fully vaccinated more than 5.4 million people with the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine and the two-dose Pfizer vaccine and has administered more than 11 million vaccine doses, Health Minister Joe Phaahla said Friday. The country’s vaccination drive picked up pace last week after it increased eligibility to all people over 18, ensuring all adults can now get the shots.
A police officer wearing a face mask patrols along Nakamise shopping street on Thursday in Tokyo, where COVID-19 cases have been rising. (Carl Court/Getty Images)
In the Asia-Pacific region, a contaminant found in a batch of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines delivered to Japan is believed to be a metallic particle, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported, citing sources at the health ministry.
In the Middle East, Iran on Thursday reported 36,758 new cases of COVID-19 and 694 additional deaths.
In Europe, Russia on Friday reported 798 coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours as well as 19,509 new cases, including 1,509 in Moscow. Official case numbers have been gradually falling since a surge of infections blamed on the highly contagious delta variant peaked in July.
-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 9:25 a.m ET
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