Filed Under: Politics

Garland defends school board memo in the face of Senate criticism

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Testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland was grilled on a memo aimed at combating threats against school board members across the country. The school board memo came out earlier this month. It also came out a week after the National School Board Association wrote the Biden administration about the threats to school officials. The letter asked for federal assistance to combat harassment and violence against school officials, saying some of the acts could be “domestic terrorism”. The Association has since said “we regret and apologize” for the letter.

The video above shows clips from Garland’s testimony.

“Judge, this is shameful. This here, this testimony, your directive. Your performance is shameful,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) said. “Thank God you’re not on the Supreme Court. You should resign in disgrace.”

“The letter that was subsequently sent does not change the association’s concern about violence or threats of violence,” Garland said Wednesday. “It alters some of the language in the letter, language in the letter that we did not rely on and is not contained in my own memorandum.”

Republicans say Garland went too far in instructing Justice Department and other federal divisions to coordinate with local law enforcement to address “a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation’s public schools.”

“These parents are trying to protect their children. They’re worried about divisive and harmful curricula based upon critical race theory. They’re speaking their minds about mask mandates,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said. “Mothers and fathers have a vested interest in how schools educate their children. They are not, as the Biden Justice Department apparently believes them to be, national security threats.”

In response, Garland re-emphasized the message he’s had since the release the school board memo; it is only focused on “violence, threats of violence and other criminal conduct”.

“If senators were concerned about this, they would quote my words. This memorandum is not about parents being able to object in their school boards. They are protected by the First Amendment,” Garland said. “As long as there are no threats of violence, they are completely protected.”

Merrick Garland, U.S. Attorney General: “The memo, which I refer to is one page that responds to concerns about violence, threats of violence and other criminal conduct. That’s all it’s about. And all it asks is for federal law enforcement to consult with, meet with local law enforcement to assess the circumstances, to strategize about what may or may not be necessary, to provide federal assistance if it is necessary.”

“The letter that we that was subsequently sent does not change the association’s concern about violence or threats of violence. It alters some of the language in the letter, language in the letter that we did not rely on and is not contained in my own memorandum. The only thing the Justice Department is concerned about is violence and threats of violence.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member: “So now, the last thing the Justice Department and FBI need is a very vague memo to unleash their power, especially when they’ve shown zero interest in holding their own accountable.”

“These parents are trying to protect their children. They’re worried about divisive and harmful curricula based upon critical race theory. They’re speaking their minds about mask mandates. This is the very core of constitutionally protected speech, and free speech is deadly to the tyranny of government and is the lifeblood of our constitutional republic. To say your policies are outside of the mainstream would be an understatement. Mothers and fathers have a vested interest in how schools educate their children. They are not, as the Biden Justice Department apparently believes them to be, national security threats.”

Merrick Garland, U.S. Attorney General: “If senators were concerned about this, they would quote my words. This memorandum is not about parents being able to object in their school boards. They are protected by the First Amendment. As long as there are no threats of violence, they are completely protected.”

Sen. Tom Cotton, (R) Arkansas: “Judge, this is shameful. This here, this testimony, your directive. Your performance is shameful… That’s not thank God you’re not on the Supreme Court. You should resign in disgrace.”

Sen. Dick Durbin, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman: “I have heard statements from members of this committee, which I think are really inconsistent with reality. Those who think the insurrectionist mob of January 6 was merely a group of tourists visiting the Capitol ignore the pillaging, the deaths and the serious injuries to over 100 law enforcement officials. And those who argue that school board meetings across America are not more dangerous and more violent than in the past are ignoring reality.”

Merrick Garland, U.S. Attorney General: “I have not seen a memo from the District of Montana.”

Sen. Josh Hawley, (R) Missouri: “Not high enough priority for you?”

Merrick Garland, U.S. Attorney General: “It’s not. That’s not the question…”

Sen. Josh Hawley, (R) Missouri: “It is the question. Answer my question. Is it not a high enough priority for you when you’re threatening parents with 13 different federal crimes? These aren’t crimes of violence. You’ve testified today, you’re focused on violence. That’s not what your U.S. attorneys… they work for you. That’s not what they’re saying. You haven’t seen it because it’s not a high enough priority or what?”

Merrick Garland, U.S. Attorney General: “It’s not a question of priority. No one has sent me that memo, so I haven’t seen it.”

Testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland was grilled on a memo aimed at combating threats against school board members across the country. The school board memo came out earlier this month. It also came out a week after the National School Board Association wrote the Biden administration about the threats to school officials. The letter asked for federal assistance to combat harassment and violence against school officials, saying some of the acts could be “domestic terrorism”. The Association has since said “we regret and apologize” for the letter.

The video above shows clips from Garland’s testimony.

“Judge, this is shameful. This here, this testimony, your directive. Your performance is shameful,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) said. “Thank God you’re not on the Supreme Court. You should resign in disgrace.”

“The letter that was subsequently sent does not change the association’s concern about violence or threats of violence,” Garland said Wednesday. “It alters some of the language in the letter, language in the letter that we did not rely on and is not contained in my own memorandum.”

Republicans say Garland went too far in instructing Justice Department and other federal divisions to coordinate with local law enforcement to address “a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation’s public schools.”

“These parents are trying to protect their children. They’re worried about divisive and harmful curricula based upon critical race theory. They’re speaking their minds about mask mandates,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said. “Mothers and fathers have a vested interest in how schools educate their children. They are not, as the Biden Justice Department apparently believes them to be, national security threats.”

In response, Garland re-emphasized the message he’s had since the release the school board memo; it is only focused on “violence, threats of violence and other criminal conduct”.

“If senators were concerned about this, they would quote my words. This memorandum is not about parents being able to object in their school boards. They are protected by the First Amendment,” Garland said. “As long as there are no threats of violence, they are completely protected.”

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