The decision to deem peaceful New York City an 'anarchist jurisdiction' could cost it federal funding.
Attorney General William Barr on Monday classified New York City as an "anarchist jurisdiction" — a move that could potentially cost the city millions in federal funding, including to the New York Police Department.
The "anarchy jurisdiction" label comes from a memo Donald Trump issued on Sept. 2, which said that cities that "are permitting anarchy, violence, and destruction" should lose federal funding.
"We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance," Barr said in a news release. "It is my hope that the cities identified by the Department of Justice today will reverse course and become serious about performing the basic function of government and start protecting their own citizens."
Of course, New York City is not in a state of anarchy, which is defined as, "a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority." New York City has a government and laws that the public must abide by.
But Trump and Fox News have falsely portrayed New York City — as well as other cities with Democratic mayors, like Portland, Oregon, and Seattle — as lawless and under siege by protesters. Fox News went as far as to digitally alter photos from Seattle to push this false narrative.
Even more, Barr's decision to give the largely peaceful city an "anarchist" designation in order to strip it of federal funding could actually defund the New York Police Department — which Trump and Barr have wrongly accused Democrats of doing.
A report on the 2017 New York City budget said $185 million — or 3.4% — of New York's police department budget comes from federal funding.
However, it may not be legal to take away federal funding from the city based on criteria the White House laid out.
Per a 1987 Supreme Court decision, only Congress — not the White House — can condition funds, and it must be clear when those funds are doled out that there are conditions to them.
Per that decision, "If Congress desires to condition the States' receipt of federal funds, it 'must do so unambiguously ... enabl[ing] the States to exercise their choice knowingly, cognizant of the consequences of their participation.'"
This is not the first time Trump has tried to cut federal funding to cities that don't do what he wants.
Earlier this year, Trump said so-called "sanctuary cities" — in which local law enforcement refuse enforce federal immigration law — should not receive federal funds.
Three federal appeals courts have ruled that Trump cannot withhold funds to sanctuary cities, while a fourth federal appeals court ruled in favor.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.