Seattle, Portland suing Trump administration over ‘anarchist jurisdiction’ label
Together with New York City and Portland, Seattle is filing a lawsuit over recently being classified as an “anarchist jurisdiction” by the Trump administration, and as a result, targeted for a loss of federal funds.
The trio of cities claim that the Trump administration does not have the authority to conditionally distribute or withhold funds originally appropriated by Congress, and that the conditions set by the president and U.S. Attorney General were “made an in arbitrary and capricious manner based on a set of vague and subjective factors.”
The city estimates that roughly 14% of its 2020 transportation budget comes from the federal government. The same is true for nearly 25% of its Human Services Department. Seattle was also recently awarded a $177 million federal grant to manage its COVID-19 response, which covers social programs, aid money, and more.
“On top of the bungled federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the administration is now attempting to strip Seattle of funding, which could be used to help our residents during the pandemic in many important ways,” Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said in a written release. “This lawsuit was necessary to protect our City’s interests, and we expect the president’s actions to be declared unlawful, as have his similar past attempts to remove federal funding.”
While Seattle city leaders are adamant that the Trump administration withholding funds is an “unlawful abuse of federal power,” U.S. Office of Management and Budget head Russ Vought claims that money is part of “discretionary grant programs,” and as such, isn’t specifically earmarked by Congress for cities like Seattle.
This saga began in early September, when President Trump issued a memo ordering a review of cities like Seattle, Portland, Washington, D.C., and New York City to determine whether it would be appropriate to redirect federal funding away from them.
Seattle, Portland, and New York City eventually made it on U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s final list of so-called “anarchist jurisdictions,” with Washington, D.C., left off, despite frequent criticism President Trump has levied toward the city’s mayor, Muriel Bowser.
Trump’s early-September memo specifically cited the formation of the CHOP in June as an example of Seattle leaders “endorsing lawlessness and taking of property.” Barr has since echoed that sentiment, with the CHOP — and the ensuing violence that occurred within its borders — as the primary reason behind Seattle’s presence on his list.