Florida’s two Republican senators, Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, have fired off a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland slamming the Justice Department’s decision to mobilize the FBI and U.S. attorneys to investigate protests at public school board meetings.
The letter, dated Wednesday, was also signed by nine Republican House members in the Florida delegation: Kat Cammack, Michael Waltz, Carlos Gimenez, Bill Posey, Neal Dunn, Brian Mast, María Elvira Salazar, Gus Bilirakis and John Rutherford.
"We write to express grave concerns with the recently released memorandum dated October 4, 2021, directing federal law enforcement agencies and resources to address vaguely defined instances of 'harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation’s public schools,'" the letter says.
"The memorandum fails to identify particular federal crimes that have been committed, and makes no effort whatsoever to cite federal legal authority justifying intervention by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and its various sub-agencies in matters that, at most, fall within the jurisdiction of local law enforcement.
"Despite these deficiencies, you direct the full weight of the federal law enforcement apparatus to be used to 'discourage these threats,' which appears to be a thinly veiled effort aimed at chilling constitutionally protected speech."
The letter demands that Garland identify the legal basis for getting the Justice Department involved and detail what federal law might have been violated.
"School administrators, board members, and teachers are public servants, but in fulfilling those important roles they are not immune from scrutiny for decisions and actions that affect our children," the letter says.
"Indeed, accountability is a hallmark of public service and, contrary to your mischaracterization of events at school board meetings as criminal threats against public servants, we are seeing parents across the country demand accountability from those charged with the critical task of educating our children."
In the letter, the lawmakers condemn "any acts of violence or lawlessness, and support the work of local law enforcement to arrest and prosecute criminal actors to the fullest extent of the law."
"However, when it comes to the education of our children, parents are constitutionally entitled and morally justified to demand accountability for the use of harmful curricula, such as Critical Race Theory, which is rooted in cultural Marxism and neo-racist doctrine that sows division and hostility toward 'others' at a time when our country desperately needs unity."
Garland’s decision to mobilize the Justice Department regarding school board protests came after the National School Boards Association wrote an open letter addressed to President Joe Biden, saying, "education leaders are under an immediate threat."
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