It seems that there is a great deal of confusion on how our government works, even among those who are elected to representative office. The mis-management of the extension of the eviction moratorium for renters is a case in point.
On June 29, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not have the authority to extend a “nationwide eviction moratorium” past the July 31 date on which the most recent moratorium expired. The Supreme Court ruled that Congressional legislation was required to extend the moratorium. Democrat leaders in the House of Representatives, however, were convinced that support for extending the moratorium wasn’t there, so it was never brought up for a vote. Since they failed in extending the moratorium, some members of the House, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) decided for themselves that the Supreme Court was wrong and they started putting pressure on the Biden administration for the CDC to extend the moratorium in spite of the Supreme Court ruling. However, Biden’s White House was clear in their understanding that an extension of the moratorium by the CDC would not pass a legal challenge.
The CDC, however, thought otherwise. Apparently taking advantage of the wording of the Supreme Court ruling that it could not extend a “nationwide eviction moratorium,” the CDC decided to put in place a “targeted” eviction moratorium, supposedly only applying to those areas of the country where the COVID virus has spiked. This just happens to cover 90% of all renters in the country.
This is problematic, as it smacks of the Jacksonian attitude toward the Supreme Court: “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!”
The Supreme Court ruled that the CDC didn’t have the authority to extend the eviction moratorium. Even still, the CDC chose to extend the eviction moratorium, in violation of the Supreme Court’s ruling. That the Supreme Court ruled that the CDC lacked authority to extend a “nationwide” moratorium, and that the CDC extended only a “targeted” moratorium is, I suppose, how politics is played. But, it’s another example of how the current administration and the current Congress seem to have little respect for the Supreme Court, and regard it as a branch of government they can either toy with to their benefit (as in calls to increase the number of justices sitting on the Court), or whose rulings they can ignore.
It matters not whether you think the eviction moratorium ought to have been extended. The questions this post raises is: Who makes the laws in this country? Does the Supreme Court have the power of judicial review or not? Is the Supreme Court a branch of government that merits respect?
If you’re a landlord (and my wife and I once were, and are very glad to no longer be), these are troubling times. For, not only can you not evict tenants who aren’t paying their rent, but you’re still responsible for paying the mortgage on the property you’re renting out (there’s no moratorium on paying mortgages – the banks wouldn’t tolerate it!). Not only that, but the $46 billion dollars the government has set aside for renters in these emergent times are not getting to them, so the money isn’t getting to you. Finally, you have to wonder if it’s worth owning property in the first place, if the government can at any time they decide an emergency is in place take control of your property, do you really own it? Basically, the banks and the government are telling you you must still pay for your property, but you cannot do what you want with your property. I can see where this is going to cause a great deal of anxiety over property ownership, and a lot of people are going to start wondering if it’s worth it. Mortgages are not going to get paid. Property will be confiscated by the banks that the banks cannot then sell to anyone, because who wants to take the risk of owning property you don’t ultimately control? After all, when the government expands its power, does it ever really surrender it? Will private ownership of property even be a thing in the years to come now that COVID has been used as an excuse to expand government’s power exponentially?
The people in this country have some important things to think about, and some important decisions to make. Exactly how much power are we going to allow the government to have over our lives? How are we going to respond when the Executive and Legislative branches of our government work to cut short the authority and integrity of the Judicial branch? The COVID pandemic has changed our world, and little of that change is for the better. We should start thinking about these questions before some people in power decide we shouldn’t be allowed to ask them.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.