U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, the man Barack Obama wanted on the Supreme Court but who was denied a hearing by the Senate, came in for a public scolding on Wednesday from the Alliance Defending Freedom.
The topic was Garland’s decision just a day earlier to announce an FBI barrage against parents across the nation who are upset – sometimes even infuriated – by the progressive agendas of their local school boards.
The points that have brought the biggest reactions have been various boards’ decisions to mandate COVID masks or vaccinations, transgender or homosexual lessons, those lessons on Critical Race Theory that teach all whites are racist and all blacks are victims, and the like.
Garland said he had ordered the FBI to work with each U.S. Attorney’s office and federal, state and local leaders to convene meetings addressing “threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.”
He said, “Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values. Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment deserve to be able to do their work without fear for their safety.”
Garland, however, didn’t specify misconduct he believes is worthy of federal investigation. And there already are laws against specific threats of violence or acts of violence against school board members.
In fact, those involved in the issue have noted that the police most often respond to school board meetings because school board members demand they remove parents who disagree with their agenda.
In one case, it was a school district that sued a parent for requesting public information under a freedom of information law, directly retaliating against her for her views.
The scolding came from Kristen Waggoner, of the ADF.
“Parents expressing concern over critical race theory, gender theory, and COVID-related mandates in public schools do not qualify as domestic terrorists,” she said. “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.”
She said, “Employing those powerful national security tools against frustrated parents is a misuse of federal power. It vilifies largely peaceful, well-intentioned citizens who are seeking nothing more than to protect and promote the well-being of their children. And it chills the constitutionally protected speech of those who rightly object to ill-considered policies on our nation’s schoolchildren.”
Her statement continued, “Many parents, including some of our clients, are rightly concerned that the government has violated their fundamental right to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children. They want school boards to remove politics from the classroom and get back to academics. They have the right to express those concerns to elected officials and shouldn’t live in fear of government punishment for doing so.”
After Garland’s announcement this week, Asra Nomani, of Parents Defending Education, challenged, “I am what a domestic terrorist looks like? You owe parents an apology!”
She said on social media Garland’s move was a “declaration of war” against parents.
On Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Josh Hawley of Missouri took advantage of having Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco before the Senate Judiciary Committee, questioning her about Garland’s memo, the Daily Caller reported.
Cotton cited a letter to President Biden from the National School Boards Association asking the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice and Department of Education to implement measures such as the PATRIOT Act in response to alleged threats and acts of violence against public school officials.
Noting the PATRIOT Act was aimed at the threat of Islamic jihadists, Cotton asked Monaco if it is “domestic extremism for a parent to advocate for their child’s best interests.”
Monaco initially dodged the question but replied, “What you have described, no, I would not describe as domestic extremism.”
While there have been instances of protesters disrupting meetings and refusing to leave, board members also have refused to allow people to express their views, have shut down meetings arbitrarily, have forged ahead with indoctrination programs to which parents object and refused to allow them to opt their own children out, and more.
Garland’s plan includes developing “strategies” against parents such as setting up “dedicate lines of communication for threat reporting.”
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