Wisconsin Supreme Court Denies Eviction Moratorium Request

On May 12, Legal Action of Wisconsin, Inc. requested the Wisconsin Supreme Court either: “(1) enter an immediate, temporary order placing a moratorium on eviction actions in residential tenancies through June 30, 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the legal uncertainties surrounding the federal eviction moratorium; or (2) enter an immediate, temporary order placing a moratorium on any circuit court issuing a writ of restitution in residential eviction actions through June 30, 2021."  

In its request, Legal Action explains that it seeks the court-ordered eviction moratorium due to its concerns over the legal status of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) nationwide eviction moratorium, set to expire June 30, 2021, which the CDC issued pursuant to the Public Health Service Act, 42 U.S.C. § 264. Legal Action noted that in a May 5 decision, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia held that because the Public Health Service Act does not grant the CDC the legal authority to impose the nationwide eviction moratorium, the moratorium must be vacated. That decision is now on appeal, and the District Court has stayed its order vacating the nationwide eviction moratorium pending appeal.  

In its denial, the Wisconsin Supreme Court stated that it is mindful of both (1) the COVID-related financial challenges facing many landlords and tenants and the importance of limiting COVID's spread and (2) the court’s proper role. The Wisconsin Supreme Court stated that Legal Action is essentially asking the Supreme Court to weigh the interests of tenants, landlords, and public health, and to declare that, as a matter of policy, the balance must be struck in favor of protecting tenants from eviction. The Wisconsin Supreme Court stated the ask is a legislative choice and that Legal Action need prove the merits of its request in the political arena, not with the Wisconsin Supreme Court, to obtain the relief Legal Action seeks. The Wisconsin Supreme Court denied the Legal Action of Wisconsin’s request for an eviction moratorium. Filings in the matter are available on the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s website

By, Alex Paniagua