President Joe Biden might have counted on support from the mainstream media when he announced an extension to the federal eviction moratorium in contradiction to a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
One pundit dutifully dismissed the likely unconstitutional action as a “rightous” expression of “civil disobedience,” though a conservative writer pointed out that the U.S. president is not permitted to engage in such acts.
“Rare act of presidential disobedience”
The controversy stems from a moratorium on evctions imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. When the Supreme Court considered the issue in June, it determined that the order could not be extended without an act of Congress.
As Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote at the time, the CDC had “exceeded its existing statutory authority” and that if the moratorium were to be extended when it expired at the end of July, “clear and specific congressional authorization (via new legislation) would be necessary” to pass constitutional muster.
Congress failed to act and Biden, facing mounting pressure from progressive activists, instructed the CDC to issue a temporary extension even as he openly acknowledged that such a move would likely be overturned by the Supreme Court at some point in the future.
Writing for The Nation, left-leaning pundit Elie Mystal praised Biden’s action as a “rare act of presidential disobedience” that was not only “righteous” but necessary.
The writer went on to admit that the presidential action would likely be overturned, though he declined to offer any condemnation of the order itself. Instead, he engaged in a moralistic comparison of Biden and former President Donald Trump.
“They know the consequences”
“What Biden has done in issuing this eviction moratorium is an act of civil disobedience,” Mystal wrote. “He and his administration know the law. They know the consequences. They know they’re buying only a little more time for the people they’re trying to help, and they know that, when the court smacks them down, its ruling will be widely framed as a devastating rebuke by a mainstream media class desperate to show that it can be critical of ‘both sides.'”
In response, Charles C.W. Cooke wrote for National Review that the president swore an oath to “faithfully execute” the laws of the land “preserve, protect, and defend” the U.S. Constitution.
“There’s no such thing as ‘civil disobedience’ for the president,” he added. “There is only the law. By inventing absurd justifications for getting what he wants, Mystal is confirming that neither he nor Joe Biden care much about that.”
YouTube personality Auron McIntyre offered a similar take in a thread of tweets.
“What Biden is doing is much closer in nature to an imperial decree, so why use the language that supposed to describe some working-class guy at a lunch counter?” he wrote.