2 Biden court losses just over a month into his presidency show Trump’s lasting power on the judiciary

judge gavel courtroom
  • Trump-appointed federal judges have blocked two of the Biden administration’s early efforts.
  • After a deportation moratorium was blocked in Texas, a different Texas judge blocked the CDC’s eviction ban.
  • With over 230 federal judges appointed by Trump, the court battles will likely endure.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Days after a federal judge indefinitely blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a 100-day deportation freeze, another federal judge in Texas struck down the CDC’s eviction moratorium.

These two losses – from judges appointed by former President Donald Trump – show his lasting legacy on the judiciary and how that could impact the Biden administration.

During Trump’s four years in office – and with a Republican Senate majority – the former president appointed more than 230 federal judges across states, which, according to Pew Research Center, is nearly as many federal judges as Barack Obama appointed in his eight years in office.

And less than two months into Biden’s presidency, Trump’s lasting impact on the federal judiciary is becoming apparent.

In February, US District Judge Drew Tipton appointed by Trump in June 2020, granted a preliminary injunction to halt the Biden administration’s moratorium indefinitely.

The decision was also a legal win for Trump ally Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who originally filed the lawsuit against the Biden administration days after the administration issued a memo to the Department of Homeland Security.

The Biden administration has not stated whether it will immediately appeal the ruling. The Justice Department did not seek a stay on Tipton’s January temporary restraining order on the moratorium.

On February 26, Campbell Barker, a Trump-appointed federal district judge in the Eastern District of Texas, ruled that the federal government did not have the authority to place a national ban on evictions during the pandemic.

Barker’s 21-page summary judgment called the moratorium – which was first imposed by the CDC under the Trump administration in September – unconstitutional and said it, “criminalizes the use of state legal proceedings to vindicate property rights.”

In early February, Biden’s administration had extended the moratorium through the end of March.

Barker’s judgment followed a lawsuit filed in October by a group of Texas landlords, who claimed that they were owed thousands in late rent and that the moratorium violated property rights.

In his decision, Barker claimed that the government’s lawyers could not draw connections to where federal officials had instituted bans on evictions, including during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic.

“The federal government has not claimed such a power at any point during our Nation’s history until last year,” Barker wrote.”Although the COVID-19 pandemic persists, so does the Constitution,” Barker added.

A new report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau highlighted that 11 million American families are at risk of eviction or foreclosure due to financial strain from the coronavirus pandemic.

Barker did not issue an injunction in the case, meaning that renters are still offered protection by the CDC’s eviction ban for now, but Barker said that he could seek an injunction should the federal government allow the eviction ban to stay in place.

While Trump had an outsized impact on federal judges through his appointments, it is not uncommon for a new administration to face roadblocks from the judiciary – a co-equal branch of government. Throughout his presidency, many of Trump’s signature policy goals were challenged and overturned by judges appointed by his predecessors.

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HUD urges Congress to pass Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus to help struggling homeowners

GettyImages apartment buildings
Banners against renters eviction reading “no job, no rent” is displayed on a controlled rent building in Washington, DC on August 9.

  • HUD is urging Congress to pass the American Rescue Plan to provide further aid to the housing market.
  • The $1.9 trillion stimulus has measures for emergency rental assistance and homeless relief, among others.
  • A HUD official says further extending eviction and foreclosure bans isn’t in the bill, but is on Biden’s radar.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

As passage of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus approaches, the federal agency that is focused on housing is urging Congress to pass its measures for struggling homeowners.

The US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, expressed support on Thursday for the package’s funding for emergency rental assistance and homelessness prevention, among other things.

As one of his first executive orders, Biden extended the moratorium on evictions to help struggling renters, and more recently, he extended the moratorium on home foreclosures to provide homeowner relief.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, one in five renters is behind on rent, and over 10 million Americans have fallen behind on mortgage payments since COVID-19 began.

While the expansion of foreclosure and forbearance programs were necessary for homeowners and renters, a fact sheet from HUD provided to Insider said, the housing provisions in Biden’s American Rescue Plan need to be passed to provide further financial aid.

“To bolster these efforts, it is critical that Congress pass the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to deliver more aid to people struggling to pay their rent or mortgage,” the fact sheet said. “The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 includes a number of provisions to provide immediate and direct relief to help people across America remain stably housed during the pandemic.”

The stimulus may be necessary relief as eviction moratoriums are increasingly being challenged in court. On Thursday, a Texas judge blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium, saying in a statement that the federal government “cannot say that it has ever before invoked its power over interstate commerce to impose a residential eviction moratorium.” 

With regards to a further extension on the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, a HUD administration official said in a press call on Thursday that an extension is not included in the bill itself, but that further extensions are still under consideration and would be driven by public health considerations. (This official did not comment on the ruling out of Texas.)

Per the HUD fact sheet, housing aid in Biden’s stimulus plan includes:

  • More than $20 billion in emergency rental assistance;
  • $5 billion for emergency housing vouchers for those experiencing homelessness;
  • $100 million in emergency assistance for rural housing;
  • $750 million in housing assistance for Native Americans and Native Hawaiians;
  • $100 million for grants to housing counseling providers;
  • $5 billion for homelessness assistance and supportive services programs;
  • $10 billion for homeowners behind on mortgage payments and to avoid foreclosures and evictions;
  • $39 million for very low-income borrowers to purchase and repair housing in rural areas;
  • And $20 million for fair housing programs.

The $900 billion stimulus package that Congress passed in December included $25 billion for rental assistance, but a White House fact sheet says American families still owe $25 billion in back rent and require further aid.

“Failing to take additional action will lead to a wave of evictions and foreclosures in the coming months, overwhelming emergency shelter capacity and increasing the likelihood of COVID-19 infections,” the White House fact sheet said. “And Americans of color, who have on average a fraction of the wealth available to white families, face higher risks of eviction and housing loss without critical assistance.”

The House is expected to vote on the American Rescue Plan on Friday, and it will then go to the Senate, where it will likely receive zero Republican votes. 

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A Texas judge has ruled the CDC’s eviction moratorium during the pandemic is unconstitutional

eviction order Arizona
The Maricopa County constable signs an eviction order on October 7, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona.

  • A federal judge in Texas struck down the constitutionality of an eviction moratorium.
  • The moratorium aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 due to housing instability.
  • But several landlords argued that the moratorium violated their rights as property owners.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

A federal judge in Texas ruled that an eviction moratorium put into place by the Centers for Disease Control and supported by former President Donald Trump is unconstitutional. 

US District Judge John Barker in the Eastern District of Texas said that the creation of such a moratorium “criminalizes the use of state legal proceedings to vindicate property rights.” 

In a 21-page summary judgment, Barker, a Trump appointee, said that the eviction moratorium left open the possibility that federal agencies could extend further control over eviction practices in the future. 

“The government’s argument would thus allow a nationwide eviction moratorium long after the COVID-19 pandemic ends,” he wrote. “The eviction remedy could be suspended at any time based on fairness as perceived by Congress or perhaps an agency official delegated that judgment. Such broad authority over state remedies begins to resemble, in operation, a prohibited federal police power.”

“Although the COVID-19 pandemic persists, so does the Constitution,” Barker wrote.  

The CDC’s moratorium was put into place last September and aimed to curb the spread of COVID-19 due to housing insecurity. In February, President Joe Biden extended the moratorium through March.

A census survey completed in the first two weeks of February found that nearly half of the 9,231,745 people surveyed said it was “somewhat likely” or “very likely” they would be evicted in the next two months. 

The ruling is a victory for property owners who had argued that the moratorium interfered with their ability to run their businesses and was an abuse of government power. 

“The CDC attempted to use COVID-19 as an opportunity to grab power, and the court rightfully corrected this egregious overreach,” Robert Henneke, general counsel for the Texas Public Policy Foundation and a lawyer for the plaintiffs, told CNN in a statement.

The case will likely be appealed in the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, The Hill reported. 

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NYC still has the most homeowners worth over $30 million in the world, study says

New York City skyline
New York City.

  • NYC, Los Angeles, and London house the highest number of individuals with net worths over $30 million.
  • New York takes the top spot globally, per a new report that includes second and third residences.
  • There’s a problem for NYC, though: the ultra-rich may be choosing to primarily live — and pay taxes — elsewhere.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Out of all of the cities in the world, New York City still has the highest number of ultra-rich homeowners, but there’s a catch.

A report released February 18 by real estate platform REALM and financial information firm Wealth-X found that NYC had the highest number of homeowners with net worths over $30 million as of December 2020, with 24,660 people in that class having a residence in the city. Following behind were Los Angeles with 16,295 ultra-rich homeowners, then London, Hong Kong, and Paris. 

“The largest regional economy in the US ranks first, both for the number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals by primary residence and second-homers,” the report said. “This reflects New York’s status as a global center for finance and commerce that offers a rich blend of cultural and luxury lifestyle opportunities, high-quality education and prime real estate.”

With regard to ultra-high-net-worth individuals, the report also found that:

  • Cities in the West, like London and Australian cities, have the highest shares of ultra-high-net-worth secondary homeowners;
  • Monaco and Aspen have the highest levels of ultra-high-net-worth density;
  • Secondary homeowners are generally slightly younger and have more female representation than primary homeowners. 

When deciding to include secondary homeowners in the report, the two authoring companies said it allowed for a more “holistic view” of the ultra-rich.

“The pandemic has set up the best market for second and even third homes in the luxury real estate market,” Joanne Nemerovski, a luxury real estate advisor for Compass in Chicago, said in the report. “Regardless of how amazing their main residence is, this group of wealthy individuals is used to travel, and it’s hard for them to stay put.”

However, the prominence of second and third residences among the ultra-rich in cities like NYC could be a disadvantage in the post-pandemic economy. The boost in remote working during the pandemic has prompted many wealthy homeowners to move their primary residence to lower-tax, warmer jurisdictions, notably Texas and Florida, potentially leaving a hole in their former cities’ budgets.

According to a Bloomberg report in 2020, the top 1% of New Yorkers paid 42.5% of the city’s total income tax, meaning that if those individuals choose to change their primary residence, NYC’s economy could suffer a major financial blow. 

Housing prices have also been declining in Manhattan since the pandemic has given buyers the option to move to other less expensive cities, putting the ultra-rich homeowner hotspot at risk of losing a significant chunk of its tax base.

In other words, New York could stay the number-one city for ultrawealthy homeowners, just maybe not full-time ones. 

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