A case in federal court, brought by a group of landlords challenging the constitutionality of Massachusetts’ moratorium on evictions, is moving forward.

U.S. District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf ruled today against issuing a stay in the case, which was sought by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Lawyers for the state had argued that the federal court should abstain from weighing in, since a similar case is already pending in state Superior Court.

But Wolf decided against issuing the stay, noting that “the plaintiffs' federal claims are time sensitive.”

The moratorium on evictions in Massachusetts has been in place since April to help renters who have lost income because of the coronavirus pandemic. It had initially been slated to end earlier this month but, in July, Gov. Charlie Baker extended it until Oct. 17.

In June, lawyers for the landlords sought to have the eviction moratorium overturned by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, arguing that it violates both the Massachusetts and U.S. constitutions. But after the SJC referred the case to Superior Court, the plaintiffs dropped their federal claims in the state case and filed a new suit on the federal violations in U.S. District Court.

Lawyers for the landlords argue that, among other things, the moratorium violates the contracts clause of the U.S. Constitution and the landlords’ First Amendment rights.

The fact that questions about the moratorium’s federal constitutionality now sit solely before his court factored into Wolf’s decision to move the case forward, as did a host of other legal precedent.

"This is a case where the present lack of an alternative forum and the significant risk of irreparable harm to the plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights makes it appropriate for this court to retain jurisdiction,” said Wolf.

Wolf also heard arguments for a motion by the plaintiffs that he issue a preliminary injunction. That injunction would essentially end the moratorium while the case proceeds.

A ruling on whether that injunction will be issued is expected Wednesday morning.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates there are nearly 1.5 million renters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Based on survey data collected last month, the bureau estimated that more than 300,000 Massachusetts renters had “slight” or “no confidence” that they’d be able to make August rent.

That tracks with numbers from the global advisory firm Stout, which estimates that nearly one in three Massachusetts renter households will be unable to pay rent and be at risk of eviction in the coming months. The issue has only been exacerbated by the expiration of a federal program that provided $600 extra per week in unemployment insurance.

Any new evictions would be in addition to some 5,000 that are currently pending in housing court but have been paused because of the moratorium.

The economic downturn has also impacted area landlords, according to Douglas Quattrocchi, executive director of the organization MassLandlords. He noted that landlords must continue to pay taxes, mortgages, and insurance, whether or not tenants are paying their rent.

“It's been devastating for a lot of folks,” he told WGBH News earlier this month. “There's a whole bunch of expense that goes into housing. And even if we make it free for renters, if we don't make it equally free for landlords, we've got a real disconnect.”

Meanwhile, landlords, renters, and state lawyers continue to await a decision by the State Superior Court. And Judge Wolf noted that whatever happens in federal court will not impact the state’s case. “If I declare the moratorium statute unconstitutional … there would still be inherent power for the state court to control its proceedings,” noted Wolf.

Wolf also said that should there be a material change in the case, such as a decision by the state court, he reserves the right to revisit issuing a stay.