In a letter sent to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt slammed the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) attempt to stop “harassment” and “intimidation” of school officials, a move that comes as parents have voiced opposition to Critical Race Theory in schools.
“Biden’s Department of Justice is weaponizing its resources against parents who dare to advocate for their children. This dangerous federal overreach imposes a chilling effect on free speech by criminalizing dissent. I will always advocate for parents and will continue to push back against unprecedented federal overreach,” Schmitt said in a press release accompanying his letter to Garland.
As The Daily Wire reported on Monday, the DOJ has “ordered the FBI to work on curbing ‘harassment’ and ‘threats of violence’ against school administrators after it said the number of such incidents spiked in the past year. The DOJ’s move came days after the National School Boards Association (NSBA) pushed the Biden administration to take action against the rise in ‘malice, violence, and threats,’ which the association said could constitute ‘a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.’”
In his letter, Schmitt explained how the Biden administration’s justification for having the FBI get involved in local matters doesn’t hold up. “[T]he federal government does not have jurisdiction over local school issues,” Schmitt wrote, noting that the National School Boards Association asked the DOJ to use “federal anti-terrorism and anti-hate crimes laws” in order to insert themselves in local matters. The NSBA, Schmitt wrote, specifically asked the DOJ to “protect interstate commerce” by using the Gun-Free School Zones Act and the PATRIOT Act.
Schmitt explained that the Supreme Court has already rejected the interstate commerce argument using the Gun-Free School Zones Act. Twenty-five years ago, in United States v. Lopez, “the federal government argued that possession of a firearm around a school could affect interstate commerce through the economic effects resulting from violence or an impacted education process.” But the Supreme Court rejected this claim, ruling that “if we were to accept the Government’s arguments, we are hard pressed to posit any activity by an individual that Congress is without power to regulate.” The Supreme Court further ruled that such a connection was unconstitutional because it “neither regulates a commercial activity nor contains a requirement that the possession be connected in any way to interstate commerce.”
As Schmitt noted, neither Garland’s memo nor the NSBA’s letter demanding the federal government intervene in school board meetings identified “any impact that parent comments to school bureaucrats could have on interstate commerce.”
Schmitt then explained how the PATRIOT Act would also fail to justify intervention in school-board meetings. “It is ridiculous to think that a law designed to prevent another 9/11 could be used by the Biden Administration to prosecute parents who are advocating for the best interests of their kids,” Schmitt wrote.
The Missouri AG also noted that the Supreme Court just recently ruled that “When it comes to a person’s beliefs and associations, broad and sweeping state inquiries into these protected areas discourage citizens from exercising rights protected by the Constitution.”
Schmitt also insisted that the DOJ’s involvement in school-board meetings is “wildly inconsistent.” According to Garland’s memo, the DOJ “is steadfast in its commitment to protect all people in the United States from violence, threats of violence, and other forms of intimidation and harassment.” Yet Schmitt noted that just in the past few days, “radical activists have chased Senator Krysten [sic] Sinema into a restroom and harassed her in an airport and on an airplane” while other “radical activists surrounded Senator Joe Manchin’s houseboat on kayaks.”
Schmitt noted that President Joe Biden dismissed concerns about the harassment of these two senators by saying it’s “part of the process.”
“The Justice Department has not directed the FBI and federal officials to investigate and prosecute these radical activists,” Schmitt noted, adding that the Biden administration “has different rules for parents trying to protect their kids and radicals trying to intimidate moderate senators.”
In closing, Schmitt wrote that the DOJ directive was an attempt to “muzzle and intimidate parents, who are their own children’s best advocates.”
“As elected officials, school board members are directly accountable to the voters – parents – they represent. School boards are designed to receive and reflect parent input. Board meetings are supposed to be open to the public with the opportunity for public comment by parents,” Schmitt wrote. “But now that parents are opposing harmful decisions made by school boards, school boards want to treat parents as domestic terrorists. That is wrong.”
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