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WASHINGTON: The US Justice Department said on Saturday (Feb 27) it will appeal a judge’s ruling that the nationwide eviction moratorium during the COVID-19 pandemic is unlawful.

The measure authorised by Congress and issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention covers most residential evictions in an effort to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. A federal judge in Texas ruled on Thursday that Congress did not have the power to authorise the moratorium under the US Constitution.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton said in a statement in addition to the health benefits, the moratorium “protects many renters who cannot make their monthly payments due to job loss or health care expenses”.

Siding with a group of landlords and property owners challenging the evictions freeze, US District Judge J Campbell Barker ruled Congress exceeded its authority under two provisions of the Constitution.

Boynton noted that the judge’s ruling only applies to the plaintiffs who sued in that particular case meaning that the moratorium remains in effect everywhere else.

The moratorium order was issued in September under President Donald Trump and extended on Jan 21, the day after President Joe Biden took office, to run at least another two months.

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