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Tipsheet

Wanting to Know if Parents Are Domestic Terrorists or Not, Judiciary Republicans Make Demand of Garland

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Every Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee signed a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding he withdraw a memo that orders the FBI to assist local officials in thwarting threats against teachers and school staff.

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“Parents and other citizens who get impassioned at school-board meetings are not domestic terrorists,” the senators wrote. “You may believe that, but too many people involved in this issue seem to think harsh words can be criminalized. Getting the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division involved in the matter only makes this worse—dramatically worse.”

The senators ask that Garland make it clear through both actions and words that no part of the federal government will be involved in chilling free speech at the local level. 

“Since you issued your October 4 memorandum, all of us have received hundreds of letters and emails from our constituents who are angry and concerned about the idea that the FBI will be tracking what they say at local school board meetings,” they said. “Despite your testimony to the contrary, these parents have good reason to be concerned. The attached Joint Message from the FBI’s Criminal and Counterterrorism divisions naturally leads normal, loving, and impassioned parents to wonder whether the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division – an eyebrow raising fact that cannot be emphasized enough – will be reviewing and storing videos of them speaking at school-board meetings. Speaking in public is a nerve-racking experience for most people. Undoubtedly many of them will now just skip it. When that happens, democracy is failing.”

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The letter was signed by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).

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