Attorney General Merrick Garland’s memo calling for federal intervention to address violence and threats toward state and local school board members continues to provoke a strong response from Republican lawmakers who say Garland’s words were dangerously vague and his plans exceed the scope of the FBI’s duties.
Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., wrote a letter to Garland on Tuesday, sharing his “grave concern” over the attorney general’s plans, which were announced days after the National School Boards Association requested that the Biden administration use the Patriot Act and other measures to combat what they said was “the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.” Buck pushed back against this characterization and insisted there is no legal basis for granting their request.
“More engagement from parents who are concerned about what their children are being taught does not give rise to a federal crime,” Buck wrote. “In fact, there appears to be no federal nexus sufficient to justify the directives outlined in your October 4th memorandum and your decision to direct federal law enforcement resources to confront parents who oppose the views of the Biden Administration and its socialist agenda. Your memorandum is a politically motivated abuse of power and displays a lack of reasoned, sound judgment.”
Buck said parents have a right to assemble and petition government bodies like school boards, particularly at a time when there are highly debated issues involved, such as the teaching of critical race theory.
In its letter, the NSBA cited some cases of violence but also pointed to lesser events, such as when someone “prompted the board to call a recess because of opposition to critical race theory” and how in states including New Jersey and Ohio, “anti-mask proponents are inciting chaos during board meetings.”
The congressman recognized that there have been violent incidents but maintained that they were “isolated” and ultimately “handled by local authorities without the need of federal intervention.”
“If the Federal Bureau of Investigation doesn’t have more pressing concerns than local debates over vaccine mandates and school curriculum,” Buck said, “Congress should scrutinize its budget for waste.”
Fox News reached out to the Justice Department for comment but it did not immediately respond.
Buck called on Garland to “reverse course” and let state and local police “do their job” instead of getting the FBI involved and potentially causing a chilling effect that would keep people from voicing their concerns.
“Using federal law enforcement resources to silence debate and intimidate parents who simply want the best for their children is unjust and an abuse of the powers you have been entrusted with,” he concluded.
On Tuesday, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco was grilled over Garland’s memo at a Senate committee hearing. She insisted that the memo was appropriate and would not violate people’s rights. She insisted that the FBI would only be investigating violence and that federal officials would not be interfering with school board meetings.
“That is not going on,” she said.