Biden Attacks First Amendment
In an Outright Act of Totalitarian Overreach, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is Under Attack from the Biden Administration.
While parents around the country are speaking out against Critical Race Theory (CRT) and mask mandates in the schools, the Biden Administration has tossed out its First Amendment right to do so. On October 4th, Attorney General Merrick Garland took the unprecedented step of unleashing the full force of the Department of Justice to counter what it called “a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence” against school board members, teachers, and other school system employees.
However, in its press release, the DOJ did not provide any evidence of this “rise in criminal conduct” or define what constituted “harassment” and “intimidation.” The memo even inferred that the First Amendment does not extend to “efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views.” Assuming that angry parents are viewed as “intimidating” to school board members, does that mean that they should not be allowed their First Amendment rights to “petition the Government for a redress of grievances?”
Moreover, the memo was issued only five days after the National School Boards Association (NSBA) wrote a letter to President Joe Biden, asking federal law enforcement to “investigate, intercept and prevent the current threats and acts of violence against our public school officials” through “extraordinary measures,” including the use of “the PATRIOT Act in regards to domestic terrorism” (emphasis added).
While the letter included numerous footnotes, citing examples of the threats posed by parents at school board meetings, local law enforcement had no difficulty responding to the uncivil behavior in any of these cases. And yet the letter cites, without explanation, a threat to “interstate commerce” as justification for bringing in federal authorities. Is the FBI going to be knocking on the doors of parents, who testify that they do not share the political views of school board members and call them “domestic terrorists?”
It is clear that the Biden White House used the NSBA letter as a pretext for the DOJ memo: The NSBA letter requests state and local coordination with the DOJ’s National Security Branch and Counterterrorism Division. In dutiful compliance, the DOJ press release promises coordination with local law enforcement “in the next 30 days” and promises to create a “task force” with a wide range of DOJ departments, including the National Security Division.
America First Legal has even uncovered damning evidence that the White House engineered both the DOJ memo and the NSBA letter due to concern that the parents’ advocacy for their children would redound negatively for the Democrat Party in the upcoming midterm elections. This coordinated effort, which began in early September, was a blatant attempt to chill speech that the Biden Administration did not like.
While we condemn any acts of violence directed towards school officials, these acts have thus far been ably prosecuted by local law enforcement officials. On the other hand, there have been a large number of credible threats made by school officials against parents. In Pennsbury, PA, there were so many examples of parents prevented from speaking at school board meetings that the Institute for Free Speech has filed a First Amendment lawsuit on their behalf.
In Loudoun County, VA, the epicenter of the national outcry against CRT, an “antiracist” Facebook group that included teachers, school board members and the county’s top prosecutor, went after parents in the anti-CRT groups, even after hackers shut down their websites and the Southern Poverty Law Center listed them as “hate groups.” That designation would give the school board enough “ammunition” to ban them from speaking at meetings.
Merrick Garland’s memo is a brazen attack on the ability of parents to exercise their First Amendment rights to critique what school systems are teaching their children. The Attorney General’s actions are even more outrageous, given his obvious conflict of interest: Garland’s daughter is married to the co-founder of Panorama Education, a company that collects social and emotional data from k-12 students. Such data-mining is considered an aspect of critical race theory, because the survey questions its focus on identity politics and sexual identity.
We call on the Attorney General to rescind his October 4th memo immediately. As the Senate Minority Leader stated, “Telling elected officials they're wrong is democracy, not intimidation.”
Amy Waychoff is a Member of the Montgomery County Republican Party Central Committee.