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In considering whether the substantial-effects test is met, the Supreme Court has "undertaken to decide whether a rational basis existed for concluding that a regulated activity sufficiently affected interstate commerce."
On March 27, 2020, the President signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Pub. L. No. 116-136, 134 Stat. 281 (2020) (the CARES Act). Among other things, the Act included a 120-day prohibition on the initiation of eviction proceedings for "covered properties," defined as those participating in specified federal programs or with specified federally backed loans. In September 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—issued an order temporarily halting residential evictions to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Plaintiffs, which managed residential properties, sought to evict some residents for nonpayment of rent. They were prohibited from doing so because of the CDC Order. Plaintiffs challenged the order as exceeding the federal government’s constitutional authority. Plaintiffs asked that the court proceed to consideration of summary judgment rather than preliminary relief.
Was the CDC Order issued in excess of the federal government’s constitutional authority, thereby warranting the grant of summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs?
The Court held that the plaintiffs were entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The Court noted that neither Congress nor the agency made findings that a broader regulation of commerce among the States would be undercut without the order. According to the Court, the fact that an activity has some ultimate tie or correlation to national-employment or socio-economic statistics was not enough of a nexus under the constitutional test. The Court further held that the eviction of one person from a dwelling did not alone have a self-evident substantial effect on interstate commerce, and the government has not pointed to any findings demonstrating such a substantial effect.