Four out of the eight members of the U.S Commission on Civil Rights have penned a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, chastising him for his recent memo regarding parents who protest school boards.
“We write to express our concerns regarding a recent memorandum issued by your office,” the four members wrote in the letter, questioning Garland’s motive for issuing the memo which instructed the FBI to take the lead on a task force to address threats against school officials, including creating a centralized way to report such threats.
The members who signed onto the letter include Commissioners Peter Kirsanow, J. Christian Adams, Gail Heriot, and Stephen Gilchrist.
“Your memorandum did not cite any specific examples of ‘harassment, intimidation and threats of violence’ that would provide any basis for law enforcement action by the Department,” the letter read. “We are concerned that much of what the NSBA calls threats and acts of intimidation—and compares to “domestic terrorism and hate crimes”—can be merely classified as political speech.”
Providing examples of political speech, the members insisted that “a parent concerned with a local schoolboard’s policy may portend an electoral challenge against an incumbent schoolboard member,” adding that a move like that “would be well within the parent’s First Amendment rights and well without the Department’s purview as a federal law enforcement agency.”
“We have combed the internet for signs that parents petitioning school boards are anything approaching a national problem,” the members continued in the letter. “Nearly all of what we have seen so far makes us proud to be Americans: Parents care about the education of their children, and they are not willing to allow them to be indoctrinated into a radical ideology.”
The members also concluded that if “a few of these parents have gotten out of hand and made threats,” then local law enforcement is “entirely appropriate” in handling the situation. The members also asked Garland whether he is surprised that “concerned parents across the country view [his] memorandum as an endorsement of the NSBA’s description of their protests as comparable to “domestic terrorism.”
The members closed the letter by asking Garland to provide “specific examples” of “harassment, intimidation and threats of violence” which Garland claimed as evidence for the need for federal intervention.
Garland’s memo came shortly after the National School Boards Association (NSBA) sent a letter to President Biden claiming some rhetorical clashes between school boards and parents may amount to “domestic terrorism.” The NSBA letter invoked the Patriot Act, which Congress passed to deal with terrorism in the wake of the 9-11 attacks.
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