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Garland ‘can’t imagine’ labeling protesting parents ‘domestic terrorists’

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Attorney General Merrick Garland testified that he “can’t imagine” the PATRIOT Act being used against protesting parents nor the Justice Department labeling rowdy school board meetings as “domestic terrorism.”

Garland spoke after a National School Board Association letter last month called upon the DOJ to do just that, with the attorney general issuing a memo a few days later.

Rep. Steve Chabot, an Ohio Republican, told Garland during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday: “I found it deeply disturbing that the National School Board Association convinced the Biden administration to sic you and your Justice Department, the FBI, the full power of the federal law enforcement in this country on involved parents as if they were domestic terrorists. One of the tools in your arsenal of weapons, of course, is the PATRIOT Act.”

The Republican added: “Not in a million years did we dream that one day we’d see the Justice Department treat American parents as domestic terrorists.”

Chabot pointed to an incident cited by the NSBA in its September letter to President Joe Biden, in which a local outlet said a man at a summer school board meeting was threatened with removal by police after he asked if all of the board members had their high school diplomas, and the GOP congressman asked: “Now, that might’ve been rude. But does that seem like an act of domestic terrorism that you or your Justice Department ought to be investigating?”

Garland replied: “Absolutely not, and I want to be clear that the Justice Department supports and defends the First Amendment right of parents to complain as vociferously as they wish about the education of their children, about the curriculum taught in their schools.”

“That is not what the memorandum is about at all, nor does it use the words ‘domestic terrorism’ or ‘PATRIOT Act.’ Like you, I can’t imagine any circumstance in which the PATRIOT Act would be used in the circumstances of parents complaining about their children, nor can I imagine a circumstance where they would be labeled as domestic terrorism," Garland said.

The attorney general's memo alleged there has been 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.” It said the DOJ will "discourage these threats, identify them when they occur, and prosecute them when appropriate.”

CRITICS QUESTION GARLAND SCHOOL BOARD MEMO

The memo was released a few days after the NSBA argued to Biden that “the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes” and called upon the DOJ to review whether the PATRIOT Act, “in regards to domestic terrorism,” could be deployed.

Numerous state-level school board groups are now distancing themselves from or outright condemning the NSBA letter.

“Parents do care about their kids’ education, how they’re being taught, what they’re being taught. And these parents have every right to be heard,” Chabot said Thursday. “Now, no one has the right to be violent, or threaten violence, and if anyone does that, they can be dealt with by security or by local law enforcement. But we don’t need the vast power of the federal government throwing its weight around."

Rep. Burgess Owens, a Utah Republican, followed up by asking Garland: “Do you agree with the National School Board Association that parents who attend school board meetings and speak passionately against the inclusion of divisive programs like critical race theory should be characterized as domestic terrorists?”

Garland replied: “I do not believe that parents who testify, speak, argue with, complain about school boards and schools should be classified as domestic terrorists or any kind of criminals. 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. This is totally protected by the First Amendment.”

The attorney general insisted, “True threats of violence are not protected by the First Amendment. Those are the things we’re worried about here. Those are the only things we’re worried about here.”

Garland also said Thursday that “I think parental involvement is very important in education.”

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Republican senators and congressmen, along with parent groups and various activists, have questioned whether Garland has a conflict of interest related to this issue due to his familial connections to a left-wing education company called Panorama Education, co-founded by his son-in-law.

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Tags: News, Law, Attorney General, Merrick Garland, Justice Department, Education, Race and Diversity, Protests, Domestic Terrorism, Congress

Original Author: Jerry Dunleavy

Original Location: Garland ‘can’t imagine’ labeling protesting parents ‘domestic terrorists’

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