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Biden administration rescinds Seattle’s ‘anarchist jurisdiction’ label

Seattle protesters at a demonstration in July. (Getty Images)

President Joe Biden issued an executive order Wednesday, rescinding the “anarchist jurisdiction” classification the Trump administration had imposed on Seattle, Portland, and New York City in 2020.

Local leaders react to Trump plan to pull federal funds from Seattle

Trump’s Department of Justice had sought to conditionally distribute or withhold federal funds to those cities, claiming that their state and local leaders had “impeded their own law enforcement and agencies from doing their jobs.” That came in response to a series of clashes between protesters and police officers over the summer of 2020, in response to the death of George Floyd.

Seattle, New York City, and Portland later filed a joint lawsuit against the DOJ over that “anarchist jurisdiction” classification, calling it an “unlawful abuse of federal power.” Then-head of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget Russ Vought justified the move at the time by claiming that the funding Trump sought to withhold was part of “discretionary grant programs,” and as such, wasn’t specifically earmarked by Congress for cities like Seattle.

That lawsuit will no longer move forward in the wake of Biden’s decision Wednesday to rescind his predecessor’s order.

“Our coalition’s comprehensive complaint achieved what it set out to do: stop the Trump Administration’s effort dead in its tracks,” Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said. “A small part of me would relish seeing our disgraced former President lose again in court, but I much prefer seeing President Biden undo his predecessor’s will with a stroke of his pen. I’m glad to have this nonsense cleared from the decks considering my office has no shortage of litigation to manage, from the eviction moratorium to hazard pay for frontline workers.”

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan responded Wednesday as well, saying that the city “no longer has to face the insanity of a President who governs by Twitter or political threats.”

“President Trump’s baseless lawsuits targeted our city for standing up for immigrants, civil rights, and democracy as he further divided our country with hate,” Durkan said in a written release. “Instead of attempting to withhold all federal funding from Seattle like the previous administration, President Biden has proposed more support for cities to help our residents and small businesses at this unprecedented time.”

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