Article from For Liberty by Norm Leahy.
The Centers for Disease Control recently issued a public health order temporarily halting evictions nationwide, reasoning that such a move “can be an effective public health measure utilized to prevent the spread of communicable disease.”
While some have applauded the order, others are concerned that it represents an unprecedented assertion of federal authority. As the Cato Institute’s Waler Olson writes:
Standard readings of the Constitution accord states a broad, inherent police power which has long been recognized to include sweeping health powers. The federal government by contrast is one of enumerated powers — to regulate interstate commerce, for instance. Maybe your mayor can order you to mask up. That doesn’t mean the U.S. president can! Not only does he need to point to an authorizing law passed by Congress — which may or may not be there — but that law must also rest on an enumerated power.
While no such enumerated power exists, that’s not going to stand in the way of an agency looking to do something. Olson writes:
As colleague Julian Sanchez notes, “This is an extraordinary assertion of federal authority by executive fiat based on an incredibly tenuous link to an underlying statutory authority.” Among its implementing measures, this short enactment enumerates steps such as quarantine of travelers and persons believed infected, fumigation or destruction of goods exposed to contagion, and closely related measures. Nothing here suggests that, say, “power to override the tenancy contracts of all U.S. inhabitants” is implied.
Again, a federal agency looking to do something will find a way to do it. Here, the chosen way is one that is both breathtaking in its scope, and dangerous in its intention. The CDC’s order takes the already tattered notion of enumerated powers and tosses them into the bin.