“A federal appeals court on Friday ruled against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a challenge to a moratorium that it imposed to help control the spread of COVID-19.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Cincinnati said the CDC did not have authority to impose the moratorium under a federal law that gives the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services the authority to make and enforce regulations needed to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

The law, the Public Health Service Act of 1944, “is not as capacious as the government contends,” the 6th Circuit said in the July 23 opinion by Judge John K. Bush.

He said a second sentence in the law had narrowed what may seem to be a broad grant of authority to control diseases.

The sentence said the secretary, for purposes of carrying out the regulations, “may provide for such inspection, fumigation, disinfection, sanitation, pest extermination, destruction of animals or articles found to be so infected or contaminated as to be sources of dangerous infection to human beings, and other measures, as in his judgment may be necessary.”

There is no authority to impose a nationwide eviction moratorium in the second sentence, Bush said.”

This article was originally posted in the ABA Journal.

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