FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 10, 2021
 
Centers for Disease Control has no authority to administratively criminalize removal of tenants who refuse to pay

Akron, OH – A federal court on Wednesday determined that the Centers for Disease Control exceeded its limited statutory authority in issuing an order halting residential evictions across the nation.

The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law’s victory comes on behalf of Canton landlords Lila and Eric Wohlwend, whose tenants used the CDC’s Order as grounds to cease paying rent for months on end.

The ruling by Judge Philip Calabrese of the Northern District of Ohio, identifying the issue as “whether Congress has given the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the authority to make and enforce a nationwide moratorium on evictions,” concludes that “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s orders—The Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19—exceed the agency’s statutory authority provided in the Public Health Service Act, and are, therefore, invalid.”

The Court reasoned that such a broad reading of authority would “authorize action with few, if any, limits” and “implicate serious constitutional concerns . . . But the text does not authorize such boundless action or depend on the judgment of the Director of the CDC or other experts for its limits.”

“Overreaching administrative agencies – whether state or federal – may not attack Ohioans’ property rights without specific, narrow, and unmistakable authority from elected legislative branches,” explained 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson. “As a practical matter, the ruling will simply permit Ohio’s housing providers, many of whom are themselves struggling, to use longstanding state law to reclaim their homes from ill-willed squatters and make those homes available to the many Ohioans earnestly seeking to improve their housing situations.”

Click here to view Court document.

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The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law is a nonprofit, nonpartisan legal center dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of Ohioans from government abuse. The 1851 Center litigates constitutional issues related to property rights, regulation, taxation, and searches and seizures.

This litigation was brought in cooperation with the Pacific Legal Foundation.