Resolve the ‘Anarchist Jurisdictions’ Dispute With Less Government Meddling
If only all it took to sweep away intrusive and incompetent governments was a declaration that they’re “anarchist jurisdictions.” Suffering residents of these communities might then be spared authoritarian laws, high taxes, and unreliable services without needing to move elsewhere, battle authorities, or break the rules. Instead, though, the three cities named this week by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) as places “Permitting Anarchy, Violence, and Destruction” are overgoverned, if ineptly so.
The designations are nothing more than the latest political battle in a country that’s rapidly fragmenting into warring factions. And it’s a conflict that will end only when the factions stop using government to screw with each other.
Monday’s tagging of New York City, Portland, and Seattle as “three jurisdictions that have permitted violence and destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract criminal activities” comes in response to last week’s presidential memo along the same lines. That memo threatened to deny federal funds to “anarchist jurisdictions” that “have contributed to the violence and destruction in their jurisdictions by failing to enforce the law, disempowering and significantly defunding their police departments, and refusing to accept offers of Federal law enforcement assistance” in the course of protests and riots resulting from the Black Lives Matter and police-reform movements.
“We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance,” Attorney General William P. Barr warned.
That can mean a big hit—New York City receives billions of dollars from the federal government every year—assuming that the executive branch is allowed such discretion over spending. The courts have split on the issue but been mostly unreceptive when it comes to withholding money from so-called “sanctuary cities” that decline to enforce federal immigration law.
In fact, the “anarchist jurisdictions” spat is best viewed in the context of the tussle over sanctuary cities as well as the spread of “Second Amendment sanctuaries” across the country. Just as many majority lefty cities chafe at what they see as unfair federal immigration restrictions, so many mostly righty counties object to state and federal gun laws they see as oppressive. (Libertarians might consider giving them all a big thumbs-down.)
And, just as the federal government has threatened cities that step back on law enforcement during anti-police protests as well as those
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