Republican AGs Rip the 'Weaponizing' of DOJ and FBI to Target Parents

Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP

Many people have been troubled by the announcement from Attorney General Merrick Garland that he was coordinating law enforcement to look into “threats” against schools and school boards after a request from the National School Boards Association.

Many saw it as an effort to chill the speech of parents pushing back against things like pandemic restrictions and Critical Race Theory in schools.

Here’s what the NSBA wrote to Joe Biden in their request for action.

As these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes. As such, NSBA requests a joint expedited review by the U.S. Departments of Justice, Education, and Homeland Security, along with the appropriate training, coordination, investigations, and enforcement mechanisms from the FBI, including any technical assistance necessary from, and state and local coordination with, its National Security Branch and Counterterrorism Division, as well as any other federal agency with relevant jurisdictional authority and oversight. Additionally, NSBA requests that such review examine appropriate enforceable actions against these crimes and acts of violence under the Gun-Free School Zones Act, the PATRIOT Act in regards to domestic terrorism, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the Violent Interference with Federally Protected Rights statute, the Conspiracy Against Rights statute, an Executive Order to enforce all applicable federal laws for the protection of students and public school district personnel, and any related measure. As the threats grow and news of extremist hate organizations showing up at school board meetings is being reported, this is a critical time for a proactive approach to deal with this difficult issue.

They’re trying to argue for a federal involvement likening the situation to “domestic terrorism” and asking for consideration of the use of things like the PATRIOT Act, which is a pretty scary thing.

Here’s a sample from their letter as to why they think that the government should be coming down hard.

An individual was arrested in Illinois for aggravated battery and disorderly conduct during a school board meeting. During two separate school board meetings in Michigan, an individual yelled a Nazi salute in protest to masking requirements, and another individual prompted the board to call a recess because of opposition to critical race theory.

Again, how does the first action require federal involvement? It can be dealt with by local law enforcement. Moreover, the second two actions appear to be free speech. That’s what they’re objecting to and saying requires federal intervention because of “opposition to critical race theory” and someone “yelled a Nazi salute in protest to masking requirements” which might be offensive but without more, seems to be protected speech as well.

Where is the justification for making this federal? If the justification is common political thought then the DOJ is stepping into some very dicey and problematic legal areas.

I reported how Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis came out smoking against it. He’s been a big champion of parents’ rights when it comes to things like pandemic restrictions in schools.

But now Republican Attorneys General are also coming out against the move by the DOJ.

“Biden’s Department of Justice is weaponizing its resources against parents who dare to advocate for their children. This dangerous federal overreach imposes a chilling effect on free speech by criminalizing dissent,” Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said in an Oct. 5 release, adding, “I will always advocate for parents and will continue to push back against unprecedented federal overreach.”

In a letter sent to Garland, Schmitt claimed the attorney general had ordered “the FBI, all U.S. attorneys, and other members of the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute parents as domestic terrorists for daring to advocate for their kids.” […]

“A threat of physical harm against a public official is a criminal act. It is not part of public discourse,” Ohio attorney General Dave Yost told the Daily Caller News Foundation via a spokeswoman. “It is also not a federal case. Unless there is a conspiracy across state lines, or some such, it is not the federal government’s business, any more than a bar fight—and Merrick Garland knows better.”

“It seems as if Attorney General Garland is following the playbook of a partisan administration and weaponizing both the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI by threatening parents who simply do not want their children to be indoctrinated by a Marxist ideology that divides children into groups of oppressed and oppressor while simultaneously teaching our students that America is fundamentally evil,” a statement from Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita provided to the Daily Caller News Foundation said.

“President Biden’s use of the Justice Department to investigate is grossly inappropriate and nothing more than a political stunt at taxpayer expense. Threats of violence to anyone, including local school board members, will not be tolerated and my office will work with local law enforcement to prevent and prosecute any such criminal conduct,” Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge told the Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement released via a spokeswoman. Rutledge went on to suggest that Biden instead use federal law enforcement to secure the border.

Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch said they needed to stand up for parents’ First Amendment rights. Nebraska Attorney General Doug Pederson argued, “Public debate at a school board meeting is a vital exercise of basic First Amendment rights at the local level. What happens in public schools is critical to shaping our nation’s young people, and parents have a constitutional right to address those matters publicly.”

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich bluntly called Garland’s actions an effort to impose Critical Race Theory in the schools.

“The Biden Administration continues to politicize the DOJ, ignore the rule of law, and undermine state sovereignty,” he said. “This is the latest shameful attempt to force Critical Race Theory upon our impressionable children, against the will of their parents. We will not tolerate this gross federal overreach and intimidation of Arizona families.”

So it doesn’t sound like these folks are going to be coordinating with Garland in his effort.