On Thursday night, the Supreme Court issued a new injunction against a New York state law meant to shield tenants from eviction in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the order came on what’s known as the shadow docket, which means the majority’s decision is unsigned and typically offers little to no defense for the court’s action.
Justice Stephen Breyer, joined by the other two liberals on the court, wrote a sharp dissent, arguing that the majority’s decision doesn’t meet the strict standards that should be applied. Though the case has no technical legal overlap with the arguments made against the federal moratorium on evictions, which expired briefly before the Biden administration reinstated a more circumscribed version of the policy, the conservative majority’s extreme action against the New York law suggests the justices may have been influenced by their feelings about the prior case. It may be seen as a rejoinder to the Democrats’ aggressive steps to protect tenants.