Cal. Litig. 2021, Volume 34, Number 1

Are COVID-19 Eviction Restrictions Constitutional?

By James Burling

James Burling is the Vice President for Legal Affairs, Pacific Legal Foundation, Sacramento. The Foundation specializes in defending individual and economic rights pro bono.

What does the printing of money have to do with COVID-19? No, this question isn’t about the trillions of dollars in debt amassed to stave off a financial apocalypse that the shut-down-everything reaction to the pandemic would otherwise cause. It’s about whether there are limits on the ability of the states to ease the plight of renters who may be facing eviction due to COVID-related income losses.

In the post-revolutionary pre-Constitutional era, the nation was facing a severe economic crisis. Farmers had amassed debts they could not pay off. Since farmers often made up a substantial majority of the voting public, state legislatures were willing to oblige by passing debt-relief schemes. One example stood out.

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