Late Monday evening, the nineteen Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee sent a five-page letter to ninety-three U.S. Attorneys requesting all documents and information regarding “the troubling attempts by the Department of Justice and the White House to use the heavy hand of federal law enforcement to target concerned parents at local school board meetings and chill their protected First Amendment activity.”
The targeting of parents began on September 29, when “the National School Boards Association (NSBA) sent a letter to President Joe Biden requesting help from the federal government with concerned parents voicing their opinions at school board meetings.” In the letter, the NSBA stated that “malice, violence, and threats” against school officials “could be the equivalent of a form of domestic terrorism or hate crimes.” Also cited were several interactions at school board meetings, “none of which rose to the level of domestic terrorism” and most of which didn’t involve threats or violence. “Most notably, as an example of domestic terrorism, the NSBA cited an incident in which a father angrily confronted members at a school board meeting in Loudoun County, Virginia about the heinous sexual assault of his daughter.”
Five days later, “on October 4, 2021, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a shocking memorandum that directed the FBI and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices to ‘convene meetings'” in judicial districts “with federal, state, local, Tribal, and territorial leaders” within 30 days. Meanwhile, the NSBA issued a new letter apologizing for sending the first letter, however, neither AG Garland’s memorandum nor his directives have been rescinded.
In his testimony before the Judiciary Committee on October 21, AG Garland was uncertain whether the meetings had taken place, therefore, to “assist in the Committee’s investigation and determine whether these meetings are ongoing,” the Committee requested that each U.S. Attorney provide the following documents and information:
1. All documents and communications referring or relating to convening meeting(s) in your judicial district in accordance with the Attorney General’s October 4, 2021memorandum;
2. All agendas, minutes, and notes created or relied upon by U.S. Attorney’s Office employees referring or relating to meeting(s) in your judicial district in accordance with the Attorney General’s October 4, 2021 memorandum;
3. Please explain when meeting(s) in your judicial district in accordance with the Attorney General’s October 4, 2021 memorandum have occurred or will occur;
4. Please identify by name and title of all U.S. Attorney’s Office employees involved in the meeting(s) in your judicial district in accordance with the Attorney General’s October 4, 2021 memorandum ;
5. Please identify all federal, state, local, Tribal, and territorial organizations invited to or that have attended the meetings convened in your judicial district in accordance with the October 4, 2021 memorandum; and
6. Please provide all recommendations, both formal and informal, and any meeting minutes produced at the meeting(s) in your judicial district in accordance with the Attorney General’s October 4, 2021 memorandum.
The Committee closes its request by reiterating that concerned parents “are not domestic terrorists” and “have an undisputed right to direct the upbringing and education of their children.” Parents who cross legal lines through violence or criminal threat should be taken care of by local authorities, but “we must not tolerate the use of the federal law enforcement apparatus to intimidate and silence parents using their Constitutional rights to advocate for their child’s future.”
The U.S. Attorneys have until no later than 5:00 p.m. on November 15 to respond.