The White House said Wednesday that an ‘old school’ President Biden would not have pushed for an extension of the expired eviction moratorium if he didn’t believe it had ‘legal standing.’
The statement came a day after Biden himself revealed scholars he had consulted believed such a move would not pass ‘constitutional muster’ – an admission that suggested Biden shopped for different attorneys who would tell him the move was legal.
The extension, which came in a new Centers for Disease Control targeted moratorium issued Tuesday evening, came after intense pressure from congressional Democrats, including a sit-in on the Capitol steps by Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.).
‘The president would not have moved forward with a step where he didn’t’ feel comfortable and confident in the legal justification,’ said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki when pressed on the new eviction moratorium
‘The president would not have moved forward with a step where he didn’t’ feel comfortable and confident in the legal justification,’ said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
She rejected a question at Wednesday’s press briefing that the administration took the action to ‘buy time,’ even if it were to get struck down in court.
‘The president would not have supported moving forward if he did not support the legal justification. He is old school in that way,’ Psaki said.
Biden warned on Monday that the latest effort, which extends the moratorium until Oct. 3, ‘is likely to face obstacles.’
Biden also revealed that he consulted constitutional scholars – most of whom gave him the bad legal news.
President Joe Biden admitted new CDC order may be unconstitutional
CDC director Rochelle Walensky signed an order extending the eviction moratorium to Oct. 3
‘The bulk of the constitutional scholarship says it’s not likely to pass constitutional muster, number one,’ he told reporters shortly before the policy got announced. ‘But there are several key scholars who say that it may and it’s worth the effort.’
Then he added ‘There are several key scholars who think that it may, and it’s worth the effort.’
His comments suggested the possibility Biden gave a green light to the strategy despite harboring his own doubts the action was constitutional.
The Supreme Court extended the federal ban until the end of the month on a 5-4 decision, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh saying he would block future extensions without ‘clear and specific congressional authorization’ from Congress.
Landlord groups and others seeking to overturn the moratorium as unconstitutional could seek to highlight Biden’s comments if they pursue further litigation.
White House advisor Gene Sperling, who spoke to the press about the ban Monday at the White House, repeatedly pointed to legal obstacles to an extension. Both moratoria cite the risks of further spread of COVID-19 should tenants be evicted and be forced to move about the community.
New York Rep. Mondaire Jones questioned why Biden would undermine his own policy with the comment. ‘It is odd, I think, to raise issues about the constitutionality of your own executive action shortly before making that executive action,’ he said, Bloomberg reported. ‘That is not the behavior, that is not the commentary of someone who is actually trying to help people. And it’s really frustrating to hear that kind of language come from the president of the United States.’
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement that ‘The emergence of the delta variant has led to a rapid acceleration of community transmission in the United States, putting more Americans at increased risk, especially if they are unvaccinated.’