Some members of the Republican party criticized the attorney general for giving the green light to law enforcement leaders to address a spike in politically motivated threats of violence against school board members nationwide by involving the FBI but Attorney General Garland Defends his decision.
Attorney-General Garland Defend Decision
The US Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday defended his decision to mobilize the FBI to work with state and local law enforcement agencies to address the rising threats of violence against school board members during testimony before the US Congress.
According to the Attorney General, “Parents have been complaining about the education of their children and about school boards since there were such things as school boards and public education.”
Coming before huge criticisms from Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee, he has been accused of opening a “snitch line on parents.” “This is totally protected by the First Amendment,” he said.
“True threats of violence are not protected by the First Amendment. Those are the things we are worried about here. Those are the only things we are worried about here. We are not investigating peaceful protests or parent involvement in school board meetings. There is no precedent for doing that and we would never do that. We are only concerned about violence and threats of violence against school administrators, teachers, staff”, he added.
The criticism from Republicans comes at the time of a memorandum the attorney general issued earlier this month that tasked the FBI and U.S. attorneys’ offices to meet in the next 30 days with federal, state, and local law enforcement leaders to outline strategies for addressing a spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school board members across the country.
The attorney general’s directive came five days after the National School Boards Association wrote a letter to President Joe Biden asking for federal assistance in responding to the mounting threats and violence that they likened to “domestic terrorism” against school board members related to their decisions on COVID-19 school safety policies, critical race theory and more.
“A snitch line on parents, started five days after a left-wing political organization asked for it,” Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican and ranking member of the committee, said. “If that’s not political, I don’t know what is.”
According to USA News, the attack on Garland’s decision to aid school board members was the top talking point for GOP members at Thursday’s oversight committee is just the latest evidence of how powerful a narrative it is for Republicans ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, especially as they try to woo back droves of suburban women who left the party or didn’t vote in the 2020 presidential election.
Rep. Mike Johnson, Louisiana Republican, aired a similar grievance to Jordan’s saying: “It concerns us that it was issued just five days after the National School Board Association sent a letter to President Biden which referred to concerned parents as the equivalent of ‘domestic terrorists and perpetrators of hate crimes,'” he said.
“Given the timing of all this, your memo appears to have been motivated by politics more than any pressing law enforcement need. This is concerning to us and it’s worthy of investigation.”