House Republicans call on Garland to rescind school board memo

A group of House Republicans is calling on Attorney General Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandSouth Carolina nurse charged for allegedly making fake vaccine cards DOJ launches civil rights probe into police department in New York suburb Appeals court grapples with DOJ effort to shield Trump from E. Jean Carroll suit MORE to rescind a recent Justice Department memo aimed at combating a rise in threats against school board members and other local education officials.

Nineteen Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee, who last week attacked Garland over the policy during a hearing, signed a letter on Monday urging him to revoke the memo.

"During your testimony, you sidestepped the obvious effect of your ill-conceived memorandum and the chilling effect that invoking the full weight of the federal law enforcement apparatus would have on parents’ protected First Amendment speech," the Republicans' letter reads.

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"Parents have an undisputed right to direct the upbringing and education of their children, especially as school boards attempt to install controversial curricula," they added. "Local law enforcement—and not the FBI—are the appropriate authorities to address any local threats or violence."

The Justice Department did not immediately respond when asked for comment.

Garland announced the memo earlier this month, directing federal officials to establish lines of communication with local school boards and law enforcement for reporting threats.

Republicans have painted the memo as a draconian Biden administration policy intended to silence parents' dissent against incorporating racial justice material into schools' curricula, and criticized threat-reporting efforts as an FBI "snitch line."

During an oversight hearing before the House Judiciary Committee last week, Garland pushed back on the Republican attacks, arguing that his department is only seeking to ensure that local debates do not escalate into violence and threaten the safety of school officials and teachers. 

"I want to be clear that the Justice Department supports and defends the First Amendment right of parents to complain as vociferously as they wish about the education of their children, about the curriculum taught in the schools," Garland said at the time.

"This is not about what happens inside school board meetings," he added. "It's only about threats of violence and violence aimed at school officials, school employees and teachers."