Become an 1819 Member
This shameful attack on free speech cannot stand.
By Brandon Moseley
Monday, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) called on the Biden administration to immediately withdraw a recent memorandum directing the Justice Department and the FBI to stifle parents with complaints about their children’s education during local school board meetings.
“It is outrageous that the government would attempt to intimidate parents from expressing their First Amendment rights to elected school officials, and to characterize such constitutionally protected speech as domestic terrorism,” said Marshall. “Over and above all the incredible attempts by this administration to undermine Americans’ rights, its gambit to muzzle and cower parents from speaking up for their children’s education is its most chilling, and frankly, lowest blow to common decency. This shameful attack on free speech cannot stand.”
On October 4, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a memorandum decrying what it said was a “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.”
On that premise, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland called for the FBI and other federal law enforcement agents to fan out across the United States and monitor activities in the nation’s school districts to suppress what they deem unruly behavior.
Marshall claims that the Biden administration, however, has provided no convincing evidence of any significant “spike” in threats against school personnel. Marshall maintained that instead, these actions by the administration seem designed to chill the lawful dissent of parents who express concerns about their children’s education at local public school board meetings.
The Department of Justice memorandum echoes a National School Board Association (NSBA) letter, sent Sept. 29, to the Biden administration that laments the rise of parents pushing back against divisive ideologies, including critical race theory (CRT).
The NSBA letter warns that opposition to CRT and other new education initiatives raises the specter of local protests rising to the level of "domestic terrorism.”
Marshall joined attorneys general from 16 other states in sending a letter on Monday to Biden and Garland strongly opposing the memorandum, which the AGs consider to be unconstitutional.
Marshall and the other attorneys general stated in the letter, “We request that you immediately withdraw the Oct. 4, 2021, Memorandum, to immediately cease any further actions designated to intimidate parents from expressing their opinions on the education of their children, and demand that you respect their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and to raise their children.”
Marshall was joined by attorney generals from Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Utah in writing the letter to the Biden administration.
“A bedrock principle in America is our First Amendment right to express ourselves and to petition our government, and at no time is this right more important to defend than when our citizens express disagreement with government policies,” said Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr (R). “I will fight any effort by the Biden-Harris administration to suppress the First Amendment rights of our citizens.”
“It is unconscionable that a President of the United States would weaponize the federal government against American parents expressing their First Amendment rights at local school board meetings,” said Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (R). “Joe Biden should be focused on the real spike in crime throughout our country, not on parents speaking up for their kids.”
The Biden Administration orders to the Justice Department and FBI were in response to a letter from the National School Board Association co-authored by the School Superintendents Association calling “for a proactive approach to deal with this difficult issue.”
“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,” the NASB wrote to the White House. “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.”