ACLU sues over Missouri order on evictions during pandemic

September 30, 2020 GMT

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit against a Missouri court order allowing some Kansas City area evictions to continue during the coronavirus pandemic.

Jackson County Circuit Court Presiding Judge David Byrn issued a Sept. 3 order banning evictions as long as tenants give landlords a declaration that they’re struggling to pay rent because of the pandemic. .

But the order still allows evictions if landlords don’t receive that notice from tenants or the eviction is based on tenants breaking the law, damaging property or violating a contract.

Attorneys for the ACLU argue the Missouri court order goes against a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention temporary ban on evictions intended to help with social distancing and make it easier for sick or at-risk communities to self-isolate.

“Evictions will disproportionately harm communities of color, and particularly women of color,” said Sandra Park, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, in a statement. “All residents should have access to safe and stable housing throughout the course of this ongoing public health crisis.”

The national ACLU and the Missouri chapter sued on behalf of KC Tenants, a housing rights organization in Kansas City.

A spokeswoman said in a statement that the Missouri court can’t comment on the pending federal lawsuit.

Missouri has reported 126,113 confirmed cases since the virus first hit the state, including 1,351 new cases Wednesday. The state also reported 32 new deaths, bringing the total to 2,118.

Republican Gov. Mike Parson and his wife are among those who have been infected with the virus. Parson, who tested along with his wife tested positive for the virus last week, on Wednesday said they both will stay in isolation for the remainder of this week.

Parson said he hasn’t experienced any symptoms. He was tested shortly after his wife, Teresa Parson, who had mild symptoms last week, tested positive. Parson said his wife no longer has symptoms.

Parson also on Wednesday announced the state bought four machines for coronavirus spit tests.

The Food and Drug Administration last month gave approval to a saliva-based test developed at Washington University.

Along with the testing machine at the university, Parson said the other four machines likely will be stationed in southwest Missouri, southeast Missouri, central Missouri and the Kansas City area.