A memorandum issued by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, in response to a letter sent by the National School Board Association requesting help from President Biden, has caused some concern locally. Questions have been raised in regard to citizen responsibility and participation in local self-governance, even when (and maybe especially when) there are vehement disagreements on policy. The Utah Attorney General’s Office is monitoring the situation carefully, and has issued the following statement:
Threats and violence are never the answer, but the investigation of these kinds of allegations is the role of local law enforcement, not the FBI. Of all of the examples we’ve seen of federal overreach recently, weaponizing the Department of Justice to intimidate everyday Americans is one of the most offensive and could have a dangerous chilling effect on speech. Parents should not be threatened for exercising their free speech rights, nor should teachers and educators feel threatened for doing their jobs.
Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes
Utah Senator Mike Lee issued this media release on the subject. Here’s an excerpt:
Last month, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) sent a letter to President Biden asking for help from federal law enforcement, referencing the PATRIOT Act, a statute that helps the federal government fight international terrorism. NSBA highlighted situations involving angry parents often frustrated by COVID-19 mask mandates for children and the possibility of incorporating critical race theory into the academic curriculum. Angry parents are not necessarily threatening parents and these discussions are clearly protected under the First Amendment.