WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
and all Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee today demanded
the Department of Justice (DOJ) not interfere with local school board meetings
or threaten the use of federal law enforcement to deter parents’ free speech. This
comes after DOJ issued a memorandum suggesting federal law enforcement may need
to assist policing local school board meetings.
“We are concerned about the appearance of
the Department of Justice policing the speech of citizens and concerned parents.
We urge you to make very clear to the American public that the Department of
Justice will not interfere with the rights of parents to come before school
boards and speak with educators about their concerns, whether regarding
coronavirus-related measures, the teaching of critical race theory in schools, sexually
explicit books in schools, or any other topic,” the senators wrote.
“To be clear, violence and true threats of
violence are not protected speech and have no place in the public discourse of
a democracy… However, the FBI should not be involved in quashing and
criminalizing discourse that is well beneath violent acts… It is not
appropriate to use the awesome powers of the federal government – including the
PATRIOT Act, a statute designed to thwart international terrorism – to quash
those who question local school boards,” the
Last month, the National School Boards
Association (NSBA) sent a letter to President Biden asking for help from
federal law enforcement, referencing the PATRIOT Act, a statute that helps the
federal government fight international terrorism. NSBA highlighted situations
involving angry parents often frustrated by COVID-19 mask mandates for children
and the possibility of incorporating critical race theory into the academic
curriculum. Angry parents are not necessarily threatening parents and these
discussions are clearly protected under the First Amendment.
In addition to Grassley, the letter is
signed by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah),
Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Tom Cotton
(R-Ark.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Marsha Blackburn
Full text of the letter can be found HERE