Attorney General Merrick Garland returned to the hot seat on Capitol Hill on Wednesday as he faced questions about the politicization of the Justice Department, and he refused to recant a DOJ memo that has sparked a backlash among politicians and parents.
GOP lawmakers are among those accusing Garland of treating parents as "domestic terrorists". Garland said he never used those words when he asked the Justice Department to look into alleged threats of violence against school boards.
"Did you consider your chilling effect that this sort of threat, a federal prosecution, would have on parents' exercise of their constitutional rights to be involved in their child's education?" asked Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)
Garland pushed back at the pointed criticism by Republicans.
"I don't believe it's reasonable to read this memorandum as chilling anyone's rights. It's about threats of violence and it expressly recognizes the constitutional right to make arguments about your children's education," Garland said.
Garland's memo came very quickly after the National School Board Association asked the Feds to step in, and included a reference to protesters as "domestic terrorists". While the group has now apologized, Garland sees no need to do the same.
Parents Protest Near Capitol: 'CRT is Marxist Ideology'
As this drama played out on Capitol Hill, Moms for America and other organizations representing mothers from across the U.S. held a protest not far from the Capitol.
"I take full offense to parents like myself that the DOJ and NSBA referring to concerned parents like myself as domestic terrorists," said mom Aly Legge.
The protesters demanded parents be included in curriculum and policy decisions, like Critical Race Theory.
"CRT is Marxist ideology," one protester said. "It is used to divide America."
New Protests in Loudoun County After Bathroom Rape Ruling
Meanwhile, tensions were high at the Loudoun County School Board meeting in Virginia on Tuesday.
Parents accused Superintendent Scott Ziegler of covering up two sexual assaults by a 14-year-old student on school grounds. They called for Ziegler and the board to resign.
The boy was found guilty this week in the first case to be heard by a judge. Earlier this week, students staged a walkout to protest Ziegler and the school board's inaction.
Garland was confronted on this issue, too. The victim's father was arrested at a June school board meeting while trying to tell the school board what happened.
"That refers to Scott Smith, whose 15-year-old daughter was raped, she was raped in a bathroom by a boy wearing girl's clothes. And the Loudoun County School Board covered it up," said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) "because it would have interfered with the transgendered school policy during pride month."
Garland also told the committee he will not dissolve the task force he formed to investigate possible threats leveled by parents against school board members.
Meanwhile, parents in Loudoun County have also been asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement to view a portion of the district's new curriculum inspired by Critical Race Theory.
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