Davis Urges U.S. Attorney General to Provide Answers on Federal Law Enforcement Intervention in Local Education

Oct 14, 2021
Education
Press

U.S. Representative Rodney Davis (R-IL) and a group of House Republicans are urging U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to provide answers on the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) use of federal law enforcement to intervene in local education.

“Threats of violence made against any public official should absolutely be investigated and prosecuted, if warranted, by local law enforcement. They are the appropriate entity to handle these situations,” said Rep. Davis. “I do have great concern that FBI and U.S. Attorney intervention in local education combined with the vagueness of the Attorney General’s directives will have a chilling effect on public participation in school board meetings. Parents have every right to voice their opinion and speak out on actions taken by school officials, particularly those they elect. The Attorney General has an obligation to guarantee that his DOJ will not inhibit the First Amendment rights of American citizens.”

You can find a copy of the letter here. The full text of the letter is below.

###

The Honorable Merrick Garland

United States Attorney General

United States Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530

Dear Attorney General Garland,

Over the past several months, we have seen increased civic involvement and participation at local government forums, specifically at school board meetings. During the COVID-19 pandemic, parents are taking notice of what and how their children are being taught in the classroom, hot-button social issues being weaved into the curriculum, and what safety protocols their child is supposed to follow while attending school. While some of these meetings may get heated, most of the parents who have been attending these meetings have simply voiced their passions and concerns for their children and their futures.

While we agree with you that any threat of violence against these government officials should be condemned and investigated, no government official has the right to claim that a citizen may not peacefully speak out against government policies. Statements made by officials like former Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, who publicly stated, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,”[1] are utterly unacceptable. Government officials need to recognize that in our Constitutional republic, they are elected to represent the public. While they should never be subjected to threats, they are not above criticism or disagreement from the citizens who elected them. If we are to live in a free society, it is your job as Attorney General of the United States to defend the rights of all citizens.

Your October 4, 2021, memorandum to several directors across the Department of Justice informed them of your intention as the Attorney General to promulgate “a series of measures designed to address the rise in criminal conduct directed toward school personnel.”[2] While we applaud your dedication to combatting criminal activity across the United States, we have grave concerns with your announcement. We are requesting answers to the following questions to provide clarity on your Department’s intentions. Please respond no later than November 15th, 2021:

  1. What specific cases are you referencing in your memorandum that rise to the level of “criminal conduct?”
  2. What criteria/behavior is the Department of Justice considering “criminal conduct?”
  3. What federal statutes do you plan to cite in your prosecution of these parents?
  4. Who will be conducting the investigation into these cases? Please provide details on the roles of the FBI, United States Attorneys, State and local law enforcement, and any other entities that will be involved.
  5. Will you be looking into other cases of alleged intimidation of school board members who have attempted to end COVID-era policies?

As the top law enforcement officer in the United States, it is your responsibility to combat criminal behavior as well as defend the Constitutional rights of all Americans. We hope you will take these duties seriously and not stifle free speech while moving forward with your investigations.

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