(USA Features) Famed constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley described Joe Biden’s decision to re-implement a 60-day moratorium on evictions “chilling” after the president acknowledged that doing so was very likely unconstitutional.
“Biden admitted that ‘the bulk’ of the constitutional experts consulted said that extending the moratorium would be unconstitutional,” Turley, who teaches constitutional law at George Washington University, began in a short Twitter thread posted Tuesday afternoon.
Biden admitted that "the bulk" of the constitutional experts consulted said that extending the moratorium would be unconstitutional. Yet, he indicated that he would still like to pursue it due to a couple of scholars encouraging him.
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) August 3, 2021
“Yet, he indicated that he would still like to pursue it due to a couple of scholars encouraging him” to do so, he added.
“What was astonishing is that Biden acknowledged that it is still likely unconstitutional but that they could tie it up in courts to get the money out in the interim,” he continued.
During a press conference Tuesday, Biden said, “There are a few scholars who say it will and others who say it’s not likely to, but at a minimum by the time it gets litigated it will probably give some additional time while we’re getting that $45 billion dollars out to people who are in fact behind on the rent and don’t have the money.”
Turley remarked that statement “would be at the start of filings in federal court to impose an injunction on the program.”
“The President expressly acknowledged that they would seek a likely unconstitutional program hoping to get money out the door before the court killed the program,” he added.
“Given the ideological makeup of law school faculties, it is chilling that most of the preferred advisers to the Biden Administration admitted that this would be likely unconstitutional,” he wrote.
“It is equally unsurprising that there are a couple dismissing such constitutional concerns,” Turley noted.
“President Biden took an oath to uphold the Constitution, not to violate it when he can use the delay in any final order to get the money out the door,” the scholar added.
“In so doing, he is admitting that he would be spending federal money without constitutional authority.”
Turley’s remarks came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the two-month moratorium earlier in the day after several Democrats including left-wing extremist members of the so-called “Squad” demanded the administration act to reimpose the moratorium to protect millions of Americans who are behind on their rent payments after being granted a reprieve during the COVID-19 pandemic from being evicted.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the CDC lacked the constitutional authority to extend the moratorium beyond its initial expiration date, July 31, but it appears the agency ignored that ruling as well as the counsel of several constitutional scholars.
To that point, in a column posted to his website, Turley noted he was “mystified” by the high court’s decision to leave the moratorium intact in the first place.
“Like many, I was mystified by the Supreme Court decision not to strike down the moratorium,” he wrote Wednesday.
“The 5-4 decision in Alabama Association of Realtors v. HHS turned on the fact that it was about to expire on July 31st. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh voted to preserve it but Kavanaugh made clear in his opinion that he would vote against any extension as unconstitutional,” Turley continued.
“It was a decision decoupled from the merits. The unconstitutionality of the law was treated as simply inconvenient or irrelevant given the expiration,” he noted further.
He concluded: “Imagine if a Republican president announced that he was told that an order on drilling or subsidizing a religious organization was unconstitutional but would use litigation to get the money out before a court could intervene. The hue and cry in the media and from law schools would be deafening.”