Dershowitz: Garland is chilling free speech with attack on parents

Alan Dershowitz (screenshot)

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland is improperly chilling Americans’ speech with his attack on parents, according to prominent legal commentator Alan Dershowitz.

Garland recently released a statement that essentially threatened parents who are opposing their local school boards’ leftist moves, such as promoting transgender ideology and Critical Race Theory discrimination, with FBI investigations.

“When dealing with protests, the Justice Department must be clear that the First Amendment fully protects all forms of protest, including raucous and unpleasant ones, and that generalized threats and nonviolent intimidation do not overcome this constitutional protection. Protesters must specifically threaten immediate violence against specific individuals. The Supreme Court has upheld vague, generalized advocacy of violence as protected by the First Amendment,” he wrote at the Gatestone Institute.

“The Garland memo fails to draw the appropriate First Amendment line and suggests that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies can appropriately investigate and ‘discourage’ generalized threats and ‘efforts to intimidate’ public officials. While the First Amendment errs on the side of protecting such wrongheaded protests, the Garland memo errs on the side of investigating and possibly prosecuting them.”

Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus at Harvard Law School and served on the legal team representing President Donald Trump for the first Senate impeachment trial. He is the Jack Roth Charitable Foundation Fellow at Gatestone Institute.

Garland’s memo cited a “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff….”

And while he admitted “spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our Constitution,” he then linked to the issue “illegal threats against these public officials.”

“Nothing wrong with that,” Dershowitz said. “But no similar memo was directed against Black Lives Matter and other far-left groups that not only threaten violence against public officials and private citizens, but also engage in a considerable amount of criminal conduct, such as arson and destruction of property. Some protesters have intimidated and threatened people who disagree with them. Although no specific mention was made of parents’ protests against teaching critical race theory and comparable ideological content to school children, or against mandatory masking requirements, it is clear from the context and timing that these are the protests that generated this memo.”

He said not just the timing, but the context and the “apparent lack of concern for the Black Lives Matter type of protests” leaves parents “understandably worried that the Justice Department may be engaged in selective investigations and ultimately selective prosecutions.”

“The most distressing aspect of this memorandum is its apparent focus on right-wing activities, as distinguished from equally dangerous left-wing activities. The rule of law must always pass the ‘shoe on the other foot test.’ It must make it clear that the Justice Department does not distinguish between what it regards as ‘good’ protest activities and ‘bad’ ones based on political preferences,” he wrote.

He pointed out such memos “might ‘discourage’ or deter more than illegal activities, but may also chill constitutionally protected ones, since no one wants to be investigated by the FBI.”

“I like Merrick Garland. I supported his nomination to the Supreme Court. And I think he was a good choice for attorney general. It is in this spirit that I call on him to clarify his memorandum in two respects: (1) by making it clear that law enforcement will not investigate or prosecute raucous protests that fall on the protected side of the constitutional line; and (2) that whatever standards law enforcement does apply must be applied equally to protests by left-wing agitators,” Dershowitz said.

WND previously reported that Garland’s one-sided memo has generated considerable alarm across America, as well as criticism of him for a conflict of interest in his agenda.

It’s because his son-in-law runs a company that sells products to school districts, and those products apparently include data tools involving surveys that gauge students’ “emotional and mental wellbeing” as well as surveys on sexuality and promotions of CRT, which claims that all of the United States is racist, all whites are offenders, and all blacks are victims.

WND reported Garland’s agenda against parents was drawing reactions. He announced his orders to the FBI to work with prosecutors to address “threats” against school board members who are imposing far-left agendas on school children.

Those “threats” have included statements from parents promising recall drives and such, and board members often have responded by calling for police to remove those parents from board meetings – or they simply shut down the meetings.

The issues include various board decisions to mandate COVID masks or vaccinations, transgender or homosexual indoctrination, and those CRT lessons.

Garland’s action drew an immediate scolding from Kristen Waggoner of the Alliance Defending Freedom, who said, “Parents expressing concern over critical race theory, gender theory, and COVID-related mandates in public schools do not qualify as domestic terrorists. Their protests do not warrant the involvement of federal law enforcement or the application of federal laws aimed at stopping, among others, transnational terror organizations.”

It is the Daily Mail that reported a parents’ group, Parents Defending Education, is accusing Garland of the conflict because his son-in-law, Xan Tanner, is a co-founder of a group called Panorama Education that “allegedly utilizes Critical Race Theory teachings and has contracts with school boards across the country.”

Panorama Education told the Daily Mail that it is an “independent education organization” working on “student literacy and social-emotional learning.”

But the company confirmed the relationship between the company and Tanner.

“Panorama’s data systems are used to collect information on students in New York City, Detroit, San Francisco, Indianapolis and Dallas, among others,” the report said.

Asra Nomani, PDE’s vice president for investigations, said, “U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland’s daughter is MARRIED to the cofounder of Panorama. WATCH. Garland has a serious conflict of interest.”

The Daily Mail said PDE also posted online screenshots of PDE web pages that apparently were Panorama surveys asking 12-year-olds about being pansexual or gender fluid.

One of the images appears to show a survey asking whether the respondent is ‘gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, aromantic, asexual or question’,” the report said.

Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook has been under fire in recent days for a whistleblower who charged that the top echelon of company decision-makers knew some of their actions were harming children, but did them anyway.

Nomani said, “Under fire for negatively harming the mental health of children, Zuckerberg and Garland’s family are now in the business of data mining children’s most intimate emotions – and supposedly help children deal with the mental health issues Zuckerberg helped manifest.”

The National Association of School Boards had lobbied Biden to take action against parents, suggesting their concern about the education being given their children was the same as “domestic terror.”

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This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

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