U.S. House Republicans on last week continued to press accusations that a “woke agenda” is deteriorating parents’ rights in their local school districts.
The first hearing this Congress of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government convened to examine whether a 2021 Department of Justice memo played a role in “chilling” parents’ First Amendment rights at local public school board meetings.
The GOP has for roughly 18 months targeted an Oct. 4, 2021 memo issued by Attorney General Merrick Garland instructing federal law enforcement across the U.S. to “open dedicated lines of communication for threat reporting, assessment, and response” on possible criminal threats to local school board members over politically charged issues that flared up during the height of the Covid pandemic.
The single-page document by Garland directed the Federal Bureau of Investigation to be on alert for “a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence” aimed at local school officials and teachers.
Garland has defended the memo, including during appearances before Congress.
In the panel’s two-hour hearing — occurring two days after a separate House Judiciary subcommittee released a 21-page report about the memo — GOP lawmakers criticized the Biden administration for intimidating parents “into silence by siccing federal law enforcement on them.”
“That (First Amendment) right has been significantly stifled over the past few years because the leftists have decided they apparently know better than parents do,” said the panel’s chair, Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, in his opening statement.
“That is an outrage and the American people are rising up to say that they will no longer tolerate it as the radical leftists push this woke agenda on America’s children,” he continued.
Democrats disagreed with the premise of Thursday’s hearing.
“Having served on school boards and having seen what’s been happening across the country in recent months, in recent years, I’d have to say that the real First Amendment threat that our schools, teachers, students and parents are facing is the attempt to turn classrooms into the epicenter of divisive culture wars,” said ranking member Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon of Pennsylvania.
But the witnesses invited by the majority echoed Johnson’s statements.
“One minute you’re making peanut butter and jelly, the next minute the FBI is calling you,” said Tiffany Justice, co-founder of Moms For Liberty, a group that says one of its members was contacted by federal authorities.
No parent or caretaker has been federally prosecuted since Garland issued the directive.
The report on the Garland memo released on March 21 by a separate House Judiciary subcommittee cited FBI data stating 25 inquiries under the threat tag “EDUOFFICIALS” had been opened since the bureau began tracking the incidents. Such tags are routine labeling used by federal law enforcement to organize reports and assess trends.
The report — published by the House Judiciary’s Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government — concluded that Biden officials “colluded” with school board association leaders “to create a justification to use federal law-enforcement and counterterrorism resources against parents.”
Correspondence between the National School Boards Association and administration officials occurred in the days before Garland issued the memo.
The NSBA has since apologized for pressing for federal action during a wave of heated school board meeting interactions. A May report commissioned by the association documented the back-and-forth between its leaders and the White House.
The subcommittee cites the NSBA commissioned report and nearly 1,500 pages of documents from the Department of Justice and Department of Education it gained access to after issuing a subpoena to the agencies in February, according to the report.
Scanlon said there are different types of speech in question.
“There’s a huge difference between attempts to suppress free speech based on content as we’ve been seeing in recent years, and addressing speech that may be criminal because it threatens violence, which we have seen directed toward educators and school board members across the country,” she said. “Our Republican colleagues have tried to frame these potentially criminal acts to intimidate school board officials as examples of protected free speech by caring and involved parents. They are not.”
The subcommittee’s chairman, Johnson, promised that the hearing is “surely not going to be the last” on the topic.
–Ashley Murray, Florida Phoenix
If you have to repeat crap you read about politics, please at least try to post the truth. Or, post both sides of the story. You actually have many readers here that are well educated, well read, from both parties, that support the constitution. Stop looking stupid.
Hey Bill, please elaborate on what facts you can add to refute this article. It’s hard to know what you think is wrong with this article since you didn’t provide a single piece of information that refutes anything in it! I know you have a long list of facts that would do just that so please add to this engaging discourse and provide some well educated, well thought out comments so we all can be educated!
Look forward to seeing that!
Joe D says
The task force was initiated due to school board members, school administrators, and teachers having had their lives, their families’ lives, cars, and homes threatened with personal violence both during and outside of school board meetings. The LIMITS of “FREE SPEECH “ are reached when that speech is a threat of physical violence (as it should be). It was not to stop parents and the public from exercising their right to suggest or RESPECTFULLY (many people have seemed to forget what that word means) question board plans and decisions.
As the husband and father of two FORMER teachers, PUBLIC schools exist to teach FACTS, not to advance the dominant political/religious agenda of the day (or the region)! People have made schools a RIDICULOUS self serving platform for their personal politics…much to the detriment of our children, who are already lagging behind due to the effects of closures and remote learning during the PANDEMIC.
I would no sooner tell a teacher how to teach my child ( they are the ones who passed 4 years of teaching theory and classroom supervision…except as now proposed by the Governor of Florida…passed mandatory and continuing certification tests, and continuing education coursework), than I would expect teachers to come into the hospital (where I worked as a Master’s prepared …”tested”…Clinical Nurse Specialist, and Nationally Certified …”tested and re-certified”….Nurse Case manager) and dictate to me how to treat my patients, beyond helping family members decide which of available treatment options they will choose.
Good Grief…will it EVER end?!?
Shame on all these fawning pawns of the autocrat-populist man who sits in the Governor’s House in Tallahssee. Woke? These sleepwalkers are slouching toward the end of democratic law as espoused by our Constitution. Their actions are more those of Victor Orban than the party of Lincoln. Shame on them, one and all.
Okay, Republicans, please tell me, because I really want to know: What does it take to embarrass you? I ask this because every time I read, or hear, the latest news that the Republicans come up with, it feels like crazy town all over again.
“Rambow” and “Justice?” Are y’all serious?
Deborah Coffey says
Well, we have to ask: Will civil war break out in America? Republicans are certainly pushing for one! Donald Trump is definitely pushing for one. And, Ron DeSantis is asking for one.
The dude says
That’s all I need to know that it’s full of histrionics and lies.
Their standard bearer can’t say 10 words without at least 5 of them being completely untrue.
Actually, I believe the orange stain has been elevated from “standard bearer” to “our savior”…
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