During a Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday afternoon, ranking Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is expected to accuse Attorney General Merrick Garland of abusing the Justice Department’s power by directing the FBI to investigate parents who level “threats” against school board members.
In his prepared opening statement, a copy of which was obtained by National Review, Grassley calls Garland’s memorandum inappropriate and out-of-bounds. The memo was released in response to a National School Board Association letter requesting federal intervention in local school board disputes and characterized parents as potential domestic terrorists.
“Since your confirmation, in less than a year the Department has moved as far left as it can go. You’ve politicized the Department in ways it shouldn’t be. Case in point, your infamous School Board Memo,” the senator said in his opening remarks.
The NSBA “…asked the administration to use the anti-terrorist PATRIOT Act against parents speaking their minds to local school officials. They’ve since apologized for that letter, but not before the Department relied on their letter to mobilize federal law enforcement in state and local matters,” he added.
Grassley’s statement echoed many Republican lawmakers’ concerns that the memo will penalize parents for involvement in their children’s education. He noted that the memo calls for the establishment of a “Task Force,” which will include the DOJ’s Criminal Division and National Security Division, “to be potentially weaponized against parents.”
Given that the vast majority of the 24 cited incidents in the NSBA letter didn’t involve threats or violence, but rather unruly behavior at school board meetings, Grassley suggested that the memo’s understanding of “threats” appears intentionally ambiguous. The memo puts the “undefined category of ‘other forms of intimidation and harassment’” under the “threat” umbrella, Grassley observed.
“The last thing the Justice Department and FBI need is a vague memo to unleash their power—especially when they’ve shown zero interest in holding their own accountable,” he said.
The senator defended parents’ right to advocate for their children’s curricula and stop critical race theory as well as other objectionable proposals from being imposed.
“To say your policies are outside the mainstream would be an understatement. Mothers and fathers have a vested interest in how schools educate their children. They’re not, as the Biden Justice Department apparently believes them to be, national security threats,” Grassley concluded.
“I suggest that you quickly change your course, because you’re losing your credibility with the American people, and with this senator in particular,” he warned.