Legal Law

Invoice Barr Will Defund ‘Anarchist Cities.’ Invoice Barr Will Additionally Outline ‘Anarchist Cities.’ Handy!

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Bill Barr is going to defund the police! And schools, and Medicaid, and housing, and the environment, and everything else that receives federal subsidies in New York, Portland, and Seattle because ANARCHISTS ARE DESTROYING AMERICAN CITIES!

No, they really aren’t. Which is why Fox News has resorted to replaying weeks-old footage of ancient riot porn multiple times a day to convince Red State America that everything is on fire, while Trump tweets blatantly racist warnings about Section 8 Housing coming to destroy the suburbs.

And jowly Roy Cohn is doing his part to help Trump get elected by bashing blue states and carrying out the threat to withhold federal subsidies.

On September 2, Trump released an unhinged rant labeled a “Memorandum on Reviewing Funding to State and Local Government Recipients That Are Permitting Anarchy, Violence, and Destruction in American Cities” in which he promised to defund “anarchist cities.”

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.

Threats to take revenge on American cities for made up crimes? Not for nothing, but that is some Soviet sh*t. So naturally Bill Barr scurried to make it happen.

This morning he designated New York, Seattle, and Portland as “jurisdictions that have permitted violence and destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract criminal activities.”

Who gets to define “reasonable?” Or for that matter “permitted,” “violence,” “persist,” “refused,” and “counteract?” Why Bill Barr of course! A policy can’t be void for vagueness or arbitrary and capricious with Uncle Bill there to weigh in.

Barr’s criteria for the designations are a bizarre concoction of subjective analyses and anti-Constitutional claptrap.

The Tenth Amendment forbids the federal government from dictating state budgets for policing or anything else. Nevertheless, Barr insists that the federal government has the right to withhold congressional allocations if cities cut funding from their police departments. Every municipality in the country is facing a deficit because of COVID, but if Seattle reallocates cash from police funds to mental health care, it is anarchy. Ditto if county prosecutors make charging decisions Barr disagrees with, as the Manhattan and Brooklyn District Attorneys have done by failing to charge protesters for disorderly conduct and unlawful assembly. 

One might expect a small government conservative who believes in local control and states’ rights to support elected representatives managing their own police departments. But Barr accuses Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Washington Governor Jay Inslee of promoting anarchy by allowing the autonomous zone to persist for three weeks this summer, rather than allowing federal storm troopers to come in and inflame tensions by beating the hell out of protesters. In his telling, federal funds may be withheld if cities refuse to allow DHS goons to come in and make “proactive arrests,” disappearing people off the streets and throwing them into the back of unmarked vans, and unleashing cloud after cloud of abortifacient teargas on lines of mothers exercising their First Amendment right to assemble.

Barr also attempts to link an uptick in violence to the protests — although without presenting any evidence of a causal relationship. As the Wall Street Journal points out, homicides were up 24 percent this year in the 50 largest cities in America, the vast majority of which saw minimal protests, all of which were peaceful. So perhaps Barr’s post hoc ergo propter hoc argument could use some fine tuning.

So, will the anarchist cities get a break on their taxes if the federal government decimates their budgets by withholding federal dollars?

Haha, just kidding. New Yorkers already send $22 billion more to Uncle Sam than they received in federal benefits. But if Bill Barr and Donald Trump get their way, that number could go another $7 billion out of whack.

Steal a pair of sneakers in a protest, you’re a looter. But steal $7 billion dollars from blue state taxpayers, you’re standing up for the rule of law.

Department Of Justice Identifies New York City, Portland And Seattle As Jurisdictions Permitting Violence And Destruction Of Property (DOJ)

Elizabeth Dye lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics.

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