‘Intimidating parents into silence’: Garland’s FBI order on school meetings had ‘chilling’ effect, attorney testifies

Daily Caller News Foundation

Attorney General Merrick Garland’s order directing the FBI to “use its authority” on people who protested at school board meetings led to “intimidating parents into silence,” an attorney testified at a Thursday House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing.

Tyson Langhofer, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the world’s largest legal organization focused on free speech, argued that Garland’s order “unquestionably chilled parents into questioning their rights” and allowed the Biden administration to advance their agenda, according to a Thursday House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing. The hearing comes as a response to the National School Boards Association letter sent to the Biden administration in 2021 comparing parents at school board meetings to “domestic terrorists,” which caused Garland to issue his directive.

“AG Garland claimed that this was focused exclusively on violent acts, but his own memorandum sweeps much broader and unquestionably chilled parents in exercising their rights,” Langhofer said. “Even though the public outcry was severe, the administration would not resend the memorandum. After intimidating parents in silence, then the administration moved to codify the very policies that they objected to by proposing to redefine sex and Title IX to include sex orientation, gender identity. And it expressly blesses policies that would require schools to engage in social transitions for students, even while hiding this from parents. ADF successfully represented a teacher in Kansas challenging such a policy, and ADF is currently representing parents in Wisconsin. In that case, the school wasn’t just keeping social transitions a secret, they were insisting on doing it over the objection of the parents.”

Langhofer represented three teachers who spoke out about a Loudoun County School Board policy which requires educators to use students’ preferred pronouns even if they do not match their biological sex, according to an ADF press release. One teacher was suspended from his position within the district because of comments he had made at a school board meeting.

The hearing follows a Monday report by the Committee on the Judiciary which found that Garland had “no legitimate basis” and that his directive was “very poorly received.” Most of the “school board threats” reported to Main Justice did not relate to political matters and law enforcement said they did not “see any imminent threats to school boards or their members.”

The FBI opened 25 “guardian assessments,” or tips, into “school board threats,” six of which the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division handled, the report stated. The FBI opened one tip into a father because he “rails against the government” while a mother was investigated because she was a gun owner and a member of a “right-wing mom’s group.”

“The Biden administration’s actions are both chilling and outright curtailing parent’s most fundamental constitutional rights,” Langhofer said. “I urge this subcommittee to use all means at its disposal to counter this executive overreach.”

The FBI did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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