DOJ Releases Its List Of 'Anarchy' Jurisdictions The President Thinks Should Be Blocked From Receiving Federal Funds
from the Pell-grants-no-longer-offered-to-Anarchy-State-University-students dept
The Trump Administration hasn’t met a slope it isn’t willing to grease up and go sliding down. There’s not much united about the states at the moment and the President’s lavish devotion to all things “law and order” is making things worse.
The insertion of federal officers into cities experiencing weeks and months of protests hasn’t done much to reduce the adjacent violence that drew them there in the first place. Engaging in Gestapo-esque “disappearing” of protesters — along with federal officer violence targeting journalists and observers — has done nothing to return order to cities like Portland, Oregon.
Earlier this month, the Administration issued a memo threatening to cut off federal funding to cities the Administration doesn’t like.
My Administration will not allow Federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones. To ensure that Federal funds are neither unduly wasted nor spent in a manner that directly violates our Government’s promise to protect life, liberty, and property, it is imperative that the Federal Government review the use of Federal funds by jurisdictions that permit anarchy, violence, and destruction in America’s cities. It is also critical to ensure that Federal grants are used effectively, to safeguard taxpayer dollars entrusted to the Federal Government for the benefit of the American people.
Suddenly the Administration is very concerned about federal spending. Named in the memo were New York City, Seattle, Portland, and Washington DC. All of these have been targets of Trump’s personal attacks via Twitter, where he’s claimed the cities are being ruined by “radical left Democrats.” The memo is transparently partisan. Nowhere in the memo — which is directed to the DOJ and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) — does Trump call out cities in contested states vital to his reelection. Similar protests and/or law enforcement defunding are occurring in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Kenosha, Wisconsin, but neither city is mentioned in the memo.
The memo — issued September 2nd — gave the DOJ two weeks to designate “anarchist” cities unworthy of federal funding. The DOJ has responded, sparing Washington DC, but designating the other three cities mentioned in the memo as “anarchy jurisdictions.”
The U.S. Department of Justice today identified the following three jurisdictions that have permitted violence and destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract criminal activities: New York City; Portland, Oregon; and Seattle, Washington. The Department of Justice is continuing to work to identify jurisdictions that meet the criteria set out in the President’s Memorandum and will periodically update the list of selected jurisdictions as required therein.
So, what does it take to become an anarchy under Trump? Not much, apparently. Just an unwillingness to maintain the law enforcement status quo. The DOJ considers it “anarchy” to prevent police from “restoring order” or ordering them to abandon areas they lawfully have access to. (This refers to the temporary “autonomous zone” set up in Seattle by protesters.) These stipulations deal with judgment calls by city mayors during periods of intense civil unrest — unrest prompted by previous police violence, something that’s ignored completely by the memo and the DOJ.
But “anarchy” is also something as simple as police reform.
Whether a jurisdiction disempowers or defunds police departments.
Nobody’s shutting down police departments. Taking police officers out of schools or routing mental health crisis calls to mental health professionals instead of cops isn’t “disempowering.” And if the funds aren’t being used by law enforcement agencies to cover activities they’re no longer being asked to perform, they should be routed to the agencies that are performing them. That’s not “defunding.” That’s just funding.
And if the Attorney General can’t find anything on the list to use to designate a city as “anarchist,” he can always make something up.
Any other related factors the Attorney General deems appropriate.
So, anything could be used to trigger this review. Possibly even just being located in a state Trump doesn’t think he can carry.
Right now, the memo only orders a “review” of existing funding. There are no laws on the books that allow the President to strip federal funding from cities he doesn’t think lean right enough or are too mean to cops. Congress controls federal funding, not the Administration.
The slippery slope is, of course, a route to direct federal control of city and state-level policy making. Pass the “wrong” laws and your federal funds could be reduced or eliminated. If Congress somehow finds a way to make this legal by codifying pro-law enforcement requirements, the federal government will be the final arbiter of local lawmaking. This isn’t the way it’s supposed to work. And the Tenth Amendment is supposed to limit federal interloping like this. Even if a law is passed by Congress to make Trump’s defunding plan “lawful,” it probably won’t be Constitutional. For an administration that leans so heavily on the phrase “rule of law,” it sure seems to ignore rules and laws with alarming frequency.
Even if nothing happens past this point, the Administration will still be posting a periodic list of enemy cities and seeking some way to block them from receiving federal funds. And the selection process is transparently partisan, targeting only cities that have pushed back against Trump’s heated rhetoric and his “offers” to deploy federal stormtroopers to handle local protests. This is more malignant ugliness from an administration that’s served up plenty over the last four years.