Alabama Association of Realtors, et al. v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, No. 21A23. Application to vacate stay submitted on August 20, 2021. Government to respond by noon on August 23, 2021.
Applicants Alabama Association of Realtors have filed in the United States Supreme Court an application for emergency relief which would vacate the U.S. District Court’s May 14, 2021 stay of its May 5th order vacating the Center for Disease Control (CDC) moratorium on evictions.
The emergency application was submitted the same day that the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied relief from the stay for the second time.
Applicants argue that not only has the United States District Court for the District of Columbia found the CDC eviction moratoria to be unconstitutional, but also that the executive branch has admitted this to be true, but has nonetheless encouraged litigation as a delay tactic in the hope of distributing billions in rental assistance monies through the states.
When the initial series of eviction orders lapsed on July 31, 2021, Congress failed to specifically authorize the CDC to exercise the power that it has, which legislative action Associate Justice Kavanaugh opined would be needed going forward when he denied review only because the government promised the Court that the eviction orders would end on July 31, 2021. As this was clearly not the case, relief is now warranted, the applicants submit.
Permitting the stay to remain in place would undermine confidence in the federal government internally and in the eyes of the nation, as it would allow legislative inaction to promote admittedly unconstitutional administrative action and let the Court know its views are of no consequence.
The ongoing presence of a federal moratorium represents both an assault on the integrity of the system of government itself but also a tectonic shift in the exercise of powers affecting the rights and interests of property owners. The eviction moratorium has been promulgated by a sovereign which is immune from suit and which will resist takings actions, provides benefits to those who are admittedly judgement-proof, and criminalizes landlords’ actions to protect their property through eviction proceedings. Any financial benefit, in the form of rental assistance, has been lost in bogs of state bureaucracies charged with distributing the funds.
The realtors association argues that the same factors that warranted emergency relief that were present before are present now and then some. Any reliance on ‘changed conditions’ manifested by the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus is misplaced, as the government was aware of the Delta variant when it permitted the CDC order to lapse on July 31, 2021, and the harms predicted from the variant have failed to materialize.
The applicants note that the idea that money damages will make landlords whole is not supported in law or fact. The Administrative Procedures Act does not permit an award of money damages, and the costs of compliance with an unlawful regulatory regimen are incapable of being fairly compensated.