WASHINGTON – A federal judge on Friday allowed the Biden government’s moratorium on replacement evictions to continue and said it had no power to block such public health emergency policies, despite believing that “the government is not will enforce “when the matter returns to the Supreme Court.

In a 13-page ruling, Judge Dabney L. Friedrich of the District Court for the District of Columbia cast doubts about the legality of the policy issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on August 3 in the counties where Covid-19 occurred is, had imposed rages.

The ban replaced an expired, nationwide moratorium, first imposed last September to prevent people from crowding into homeless shelters and with relatives and spreading the virus. The new one is narrower because it only applies at high transfer rates. Still, this category currently covers about 91 percent of the counties in the United States.

Judge Friedrich blocked the statewide version of the moratorium in May, but the Federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned it and the Supreme Court abandoned that decision in June. On Friday, she ruled the replacement policy was so similar to the original that the earlier appeal court ruling controlled the case – for now.

“Without the DC Circuit ruling,” she wrote, she would immediately prevent the government from enforcing the new eviction ban. “But the court’s hands are tied.”

The Justice Department declined to comment. But in a statement Jen Psaki, White House press secretary said, “The government believes the CDC’s new moratorium is an appropriate use of its legitimate powers to protect public health. We are pleased that the regional court has left the moratorium, but we know that further proceedings are likely in this case. “

Plaintiffs, led by the Alabama Association of Realtors, are expected to promptly bring the case back to the appellate court to expedite its path to the Supreme Court, where five of the nine justices Judge Friedrich are likely to agree that the ban exceeds the emergency powers government under a broad but vague Public Health Act of 1944.

An attorney for the plaintiffs directed a request for comment to Patrick Newton, a spokesman for the National Association of Realtors who is not involved in the case but is helping landlords. He said plaintiffs would appeal, adding, “We are confident that this illegal eviction ban will soon come to an end.”

The government’s power to ban evictions as part of its efforts to combat the pandemic has raised complex legal and political issues. The Biden administration had signaled that it would let an earlier version of the moratorium, which had already been extended several times, expire in late July after a Supreme Court judge warned that it was likely to be legally shaky.

But as the delta variant of the virus increased, and spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi and progressive Democrats called on the White House to reverse course, the government passed a new, tighter moratorium this month – even as Mr Biden made it clear in comments to reporters that it did his chances of being upheld by the Supreme Court were slim.

“Most of the constitutional research says it is unlikely to pass the constitutional test,” he said on Aug. 3. “But there are several key scientists who believe this is possible – and it is worth the effort.”

To signal that the White House understands the moratorium’s longer-term prospects are weak, Ms. Psaki on Friday urged state and local officials to take other steps that could mitigate a virus-spreading wave of mass displacement, including imposing local moratoriums and taking more aggressive steps to distribute $ 46.5 billion that Congress approved as an emergency fund for rent.

A temporary moratorium on the pandemic began to evacuate during the Trump administration. Sometimes Congress has specifically approved this. But when those deadlines expired, the CDC enacted extensions under the 1944 Act, which empowers the government to enact rules it deems necessary to slow the spread of disease between states.

Unable to evict non-paying tenants, landlords sued, questioning whether a nationwide eviction ban was outside of the 1944 law.

In May, Judge Friedrich ruled that plaintiffs would likely prevail and issued an order prohibiting the government from enforcing the ban during the litigation. However, she upheld that ruling even while the government appealed, and the appeals court declined to overturn her stay, stating that contrary to her view, the ban would most likely be found lawful.

At the end of June, the Supreme Court also refused to have her stay lifted and voted 5 to 4 against the immediate blocking of the original eviction ban. But while the government won, the lawsuit came with a strong warning: Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh warned that “clear and specific approval from Congress” was required for the moratorium to continue beyond its scheduled expiration in late July.

At this point, the pandemic appeared to be subsiding, and the government thought tens of billions of dollars seized by Congress as an emergency fund for rentals were about to be distributed. With this in mind, the Biden government’s legal and policy teams agreed to allow the moratorium to expire as planned.

But by the end of July, the conditions had changed. The distribution of housing benefits turned out to be dysfunctional, and coronavirus cases increased. When the speedy passage of new laws proved politically impossible, House Democrats, led by Ms. Pelosi, urged Mr. Biden to act unilaterally, at a time when his broader agenda made it dangerous to overthrow all allies in the narrowly divided Congress alienate.

This move was made difficult by the fact that some Biden politicians and members of the press had meanwhile suggested that the Supreme Court’s move in June make an extension of the moratorium illegal. These now awkward comments were, in the view of officials familiar with internal reasoning, an oversimplification of the more complicated reality.

In fact, they advised, the government could maintain its position that it can approve an eviction moratorium under the 1944 law because the Supreme Court’s action in June did not set a definitive, controlling precedent for what that law might mean. However, they also warned that it was likely that the Supreme Court would quickly lift any new moratorium, and such a ruling could also limit the CDC’s flexibility to act in a future public health crisis.

Three days after the end of the nationwide moratorium, the Biden government issued its narrower eviction moratorium until October.

One legal question raised by the case is whether the new facts – the advent of the delta variant and the restricted scope of the ban – distinguish the new moratorium from the old in a legally meaningful way, or whether the main question is how to interpret the moratorium Statute of 1944.

In her judgment on Friday, Judge Friedrich stated that the replacement moratorium was basically so similar to the original that it was considered an extension of the same for which the existing litigation could continue, and not as a new directive for which legal arguments were introduced would have to about.

“The slight differences between the current and previous moratorium do not exempt the former from ordering by this court,” she wrote, adding that although the government “has excluded some districts from the scope of the recent moratorium, the policy remains in effect nationwide.” sharing the same ”. Structure and design like its predecessors, offers continuous coverage with them and claims to rest on the same legal authority. “