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Source and Scope of Public Health Legal Powers

Terkel, et al. v. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), et al.


Terkel, et al. v. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), et al. (U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas, February 25, 2021): A Texas federal court held that CDC lacked the constitutional authority to enforce a nationwide eviction moratorium. CDC argued that the moratorium fell within its authority to regulate interstate commerce. The court disagreed, reasoning that evicting tenants does not affect interstate commerce because “real estate is inherently local.” The court also noted that the federal government does not have the same broad authority as states to regulate for the public good (“police powers”). Rather, federal authorities are limited to those granted to it expressly by the Constitution. A lack of historical precedent for a nationwide moratorium intimates a “severe constitutional problem,” suggested the court. It did not purport to block the moratorium nationally, but rather issued a judgment specific to the moratorium’s application to the plaintiff landlords in the case. CDC has appealed to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Read the decision here.

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – March 15, 2021.

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