Coronavirus

Pat Toomey on CDC Eviction Moratorium: 'The Legal Authority Is a Real Stretch'

The Trump administration's new nationwide eviction moratorium provokes a backlash from some congressional Republicans.

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The Trump administration's new nationwide moratorium on evictions is attracting heated opposition from some Republicans in Congress, who say it is legally shaky and sets a dangerous precedent for future administrations.

"I think the legal authority is a real stretch," says Sen. Pat Toomey (R–Penn.). "I don't know what the limiting principle is."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which issued the moratorium on Tuesday, cites its authority under the Public Health Services Act to issue regulations to stop the interstate spread of disease. That argument doesn't impress Toomey.

"If the CDC has the authority to force landlords to effectively give away their product for free, I don't know where that ends," Toomey tells Reason. "Can General Motors be forced to give people cars unless they otherwise crowd into subways?"

Other congressional Republicans have raised similar concerns. Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) said on Twitter that the "CDC does not have the authority to do this. It's dangerous precedent and bad policy."

"Rental contracts are governed by state law. There is no federal authority to overturn them," tweeted Rep. Thomas Massie (R–Ky.). "The CDC order is an affront to the rule of law, and an emasculation of every legislator in this country—state and federal."

In addition to the legal issues it raises, Toomey argues that the CDC's eviction moratorium is bad policy.

"There's not some mass wave of evictions going on," he argues. "It is in the interest of landlords to work out agreements with tenants going through difficult circumstances." A moratorium on evictions, he suggests, would encourage non-payment of rent and disincentivize deals between tenants and landlords.

According to data from Princeton University's Eviction Lab—which tracks eviction filings in select cities—evictions are currently below historic averages in almost every city, including in places where local and state eviction moratoriums have expired. Thus far, rent payment rates have remained pretty steady during the coronavirus pandemic and are only slightly below where they were last year.

The federal eviction moratorium does nothing to relieve tenants of the responsibility to pay rent, instead only limiting landlords' ability to evict tenants for non-payment. Housing advocates have argued that the moratorium is a half-measure that needs to be coupled with rental assistance to tenants. Not doing so, they argue, will leave renters vulnerable to eviction once months of back rent come do.

A $3.5 trillion relief package passed by the Democrat-controlled House in May included $100 billion in emergency rent relief.

Toomey thinks that assistance to renters isn't warranted given the relief measures that Congress has already enacted, including the $1,200 stimulus checks and the federal $600 unemployment bonus.

"I think we have to ask ourselves how much expansion of the welfare state, how many different layers, how many different programs are we going to do. When is it enough?" the senator says.

Toomey says that he has expressed his concerns about the federal government's eviction moratorium to senior administration officials. A legislative remedy isn't practical, Toomey argues, given that House would never sign off on a bill repealing an eviction moratorium.

Meanwhile, he worries that the effort sets a dangerous precedent.

"What future administration, what future president, certainly what future Democratic president is going to want to be accused of being less generous than Donald Trump?" asks Toomey. "Are we to expect that the standard response of the government to an economic downturn is an eviction moratorium? We've never done that before."

The CDC's eviction moratorium goes into effect Friday.

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  1. TRUMP DON’T NEED NO CONGRESS TO RUN THANGS!

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    1. 1) If the state moratoriums don’t trigger the Takings Clause, why would this?
      2) 4th Circuit ruled having to dispose of property the state decided to declare illegal (MD, bump stocks/certain triggers) does not constitute a taking because it is not required to be turned over to the state. Same here, it’s not being required to be turned over to the state. So per the 4th circuit, not a taking.

      And for the record, I disagree with all of the above.

      1. As for 1, federal versus state, perhaps? I am not a lawyer. 😀

        2.) Well, that’s just crap.

        1. SCOTUS has already said the takings clause, through the 14th amendment, applies to the states just as much as the fed. So, I’m not seeing why this would be any different. And the Contracts Clause would still apply to the states too.

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          2. Under the kelo v’s new London case the Supreme Court ruled that state govement can do what they want

    2. The Southern District of New York has rejected such arguments, noting that this falls under police powers in emergency situations and that they weren’t preventing the landlords from taking rent from the tenants.

      It’d be an interesting case to take up the chain, but I’m not sure that the Supreme Court would hear it before it became moot, and honestly, given past rulings, the Supreme Court is likely to side with the government anyway.

  2. It’s legal under the doctrine that Trump gets to do what he wants. These naysayers are just kulaks and wreckers and traitors to this great nation.

    1. Some, I assume, are hoarders

    2. It’s legal under the doctrine that Trump gets to do what he wants

      Ah, the pen-and-phone principle introduced by Obama!

  3. It is legally questionable done under congressional mandates as well. In no manner does local real estate cause interstate market shifts.

    I dont get why this site solely focuses on the executive at this point.

    1. It’s actually YOU that’s focusing less on the executive. This website has always wrote mostly on the executive.

      1. Your comment makes zero sense.

        This site does not think federalism isn’t real.

        Do you wish to try again?

      2. Almost 3000 hits dummy.

        https://reason.com/search/Federaliam/

        Their focus has changed.

    2. I’m curious, is there a single article on this whole website that JesseAz hasn’t found some way to bitch and moan about?

      1. I’m curious. Why do you lie with your name?

  4. US trade deficit surges in July to highest in 12 years

    Source: Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit surged in July to $63.6 billion, the highest level in 12 years, as imports jumped by a record amount.

    The Commerce Department reported that the July deficit, the gap between what America buys and what it sells to foreigners, was 18.9% higher than the June deficit of $53.5 billion. It was the largest monthly deficit since July 2008 during the 2007-2009 recession.

    Another bungled campaign promise from Trump (who wrongly thinks the trade deficit is a big deal – it isn’t)

    by nearly every economic metric The Dotard is a disaster – GDP, UE, deficits, spending, trade, etc.

    1. Anyone ever told you your an obsessive? You’ve just switched your addiction from young kids to trump. It is healthier at least. Just worry about the crash 4 years from now. Find a new hobby.

    2. Are you actually citing the AP?
      The same AP that reported actual evidence that Russia stole the election from Her Royal Highness and President for Life?

      1. The source is the Commerce Department.

        You know you’re a Trump cultist when you dismiss all criticism of him as a lie. You might as well be in a Jim Jones type camp with all the other cultists.

        1. Cool story what does your weird Trump fetish have to do with the AP being untrustworthy.

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  6. Drain the Swamp!

    1. Maybe his eviction moratorium is Trump’s fifth-dimensional chess move to drain the swamp and fight socialism, and we mere three-dimensional thinkers just don’t understand.

      1. Given the socialist claims that housing is a “right”, maybe our savior is just trying to get a federal court to rule the feds can’t mess with rentals?

        1. 5th dimension chess move here is to get democrats to sue him and declare the power unconstitutional. He looks like he tried, dems invoke federalism. Win win.

          1. Win win

            Except for the landlords who will have to wait for a court ruling while they loose everything. What a man of the people!

            1. Long term gains will outweigh short. Plus the federal judiciary in dem districts is so anti trump they would post an injunction quickly.

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  7. The primary purpose of this moratorium to bait critics into criticizing President Trump for keeping people in their homes two months ahead of a national election.

    This is how President managed to get elected without hardly spending any of his own money.

    There are all sorts of things to criticize him for, here, and pandering is probably the best way to go after him for this. It may be the only way to criticize what Trump is doing in front of a general audience without carrying water for his campaign.

    1. I’ll just criticize him for being a socialist land grabber. Can’t imagine how that helps his campaign seeing he’s running against socialism and people destroying small businesses. What difference does it make if your business is destroyed by rioters or by a president’s pen? At least you might get some insurance money out of the damaged caused by rioters. What avenue do landlords have to be compensated for this?

      1. What Sometimes said about Trump being a socialist land grabber here. But I agree with Ken: this attempt likely helps Trump’s campaign. Majority rules here, and even among Republican voters, there are more renters/mortgagors than there are landlords.

        Yes, it’s shitty, populist, and a violation of people’s rights to be secure in their property. But this attempt likely helps him more than hurts him at the polls.

        1. Is there a realistic chance of a court upholding this eviction ban on the merits?

    2. It’s still good to see Republicans call out the President for doing something bad even if he’s on their team. It makes it all the easier to back them this election.

    3. I think he knows it’ll be struck down in court after the election. So he gets votes and nobody loses anything.

  8. “Rental contracts are governed by state law. There is no federal authority to overturn them,”

    So was health insurance, so – – – – –

  9. No more shakey constitutionally than:

    Asset forfeiture without charges let alone conviction
    Gun bans
    A privacy right to kill babies
    Mandating purchase of products
    Men = Women = Whatever you want to be
    etc

  10. Yes it was a terrible idea and unnecessary. Of course there are needy people, but this is another moral hazard that will only create more of them (or at least more people who say they can’t afford rent, and more people who panic and hyperventilate and fearmonger and hurl vitriolic abuse at libertarians who want to cut government spending the next time a novel but relatively harmless virus comes around so they can get trillions in free stuff).

    I wish Trump wouldn’t keep making my job harder.

    1. “I wish Trump wouldn’t keep making my job harder.”

      This too.

  11. If the CDC was actually interested in controlling the interstate spread of COVID 19, they would ban interstate travel. I’d like to see how that would play out…..

    This is just a stupid stunt by Trump.

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  13. I recall in a previous topic vocalizing how choosing between Trump and Biden was a false choice and someone made the analogy that every thinking person should choose Trump because it’s better to choose to be shot in the arm than take a chance at being shot in the head. I wonder how much more democracy, capitalism, civil rights, and the constitution Donald J Trump needs to “shoot” before any thinking person would choose to be shot in the head so as to just get it over with more quickly. Choosing the lesser evil never works and nothing is going to change until a majority of people realize that the vision of America that the current Republican party wants to “save” isn’t worth saving. Opposing socialists means nothing when you enact their wildest fantasies by executive fiat.

    1. This proposal by him sucks. So did bumpstocks getting banned. No argument there.
      What else has he done, that hasn’t been a 1/10th as bad as it’d be with Harris in the high chair?

      All of this bullshit about, “Burn It Down! Liberty will rise from the ashes!” is rank garbage. In addition to the human tragedy, we will get a police state that China would envy if the US decided to go full bore Troubles. Libertopia is not going to arise.

      1. 1) Tariffs by executive order
        2) Fighting to get the sequester killed off
        3) Signing 2nd omnibus (and subsequent ones) bill after stating that the 1st would be the last (I’ll give him a break on the 1st; as if I recall correctly, he was still getting his feet wet in office)
        4) Jeff Sessions but he fixed that one quickly enough so I’ll give him a pass but still Jeff Sessions.

        1. I don’t care about tariffs when they’re used to remove even more onerous ones against American exports.

          The omnibus was likely veto-proof, wasn’t it?

          The sequester looks popular with exactly no one in Congress or the Executive. Per this article from Politico. https://www.taxpayer.net/in-the-news/trump-lawmakers-have-consistently-sidestepped-the-defense-sequester/

          While I would like Trump to not sign budgets that are well in excess of revenues, I still think he’d be better about it than anyone not named Rand or Ron Paul. And it’s defense spending, where there’s still gobs of waste, but if the US wants to have the reserve currency of the world, maintaining defense is one of those necessary expenditures.

          Let’s see, #4 was Sessions. Yeah, he’s had shitty Cabinet picks. And he is absolutely atrocious at lawfare, something a hypothetical President Cruz would have crushed him on.

          Moreover, besides the tariffs on China, which I concede Harris would be ‘better’ on, the other three points wouldn’t be a lot worse with a President Harris? Jesus, can you imagine who her AG pick would be? Shudder.

    2. It seems my choices are:

      Trump
      Biden
      BLM
      Antifa

      Struggling with that choice.

      1. What about Jo? (I’m trying to keep a straight face here.)

    3. Choosing the lesser evil is done successfully all the time in medicine. It’s practically what medicine is about.

  14. “Can General Motors be forced to give people cars unless they otherwise crowd into subways?”

    I bailed them out under the last administration, it seems fair to me!

    1. You were paid back on that bailout ((or at least Treasury was) and under that administration, too, if you remember correctly.

  15. How is this not a clear “taking” without compensation?

    1. You still own your property, you just can’t use it.

      1. But you tax bill will be on time.

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  17. Well at least the property tax moratorium will help ease the pain a bit for the landlords.

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  19. people people…we’re all in this together! unless your a landlord then you’re on yer own. today we were reminded that trump has zero core principles. and also that the CDC is out of control

  20. This eviction moratorium is for niggers!

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  22. It may not be legal or Constitutional but scenes of thousands of evicted tenants on the street would make for some great campaign commercials – for the Democrats.

  23. The remedy for executive overreach is impeachment. They are welcome to try over this.

  24. Meanwhile, he worries that the effort sets a dangerous precedent.

    “What future administration, what future president, certainly what future Democratic president is going to want to be accused of being less generous than Donald Trump?” asks Toomey. “Are we to expect that the standard response of the government to an economic downturn is an eviction moratorium? We’ve never done that before.”

    A dangerous precedent can only be set by the judiciary if they uphold this executive order on the merits.

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