Republican senators have warned Attorney General Merrick Garland not to police speech against transgender surgeries on children.
In a letter sent to Garland Tuesday, Oct. 11, Senators Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Lee (Utah), Ron Johnson (Wisconsin), Roger Marshall (Kansas) and Marsha Blackburn (Tennessee) said they are worried that the attorney general would repeat a pattern that played out in his handling of school board protesters.
“In your confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, you promised that, under your watch, the Department of Justice (DOJ) would not be politicized or weaponized,” the senators said. “You have already broken that promise more than once, and we are concerned you are poised to do so once again.”
They were referring to a memo from October 2021, in which Garland formed a coalition of federal and local law enforcement to address alleged “threats of violence” against teachers and school board members.
In response to the memo, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s counterterrorism unit created the threat tag “EDUOFFICIALS,” and opened dozens of investigations into the activities of the protesting parents.
Garland said at the time that the memo was based in part on a letter sent to President Brandon by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) which characterized disruptions at the school board meetings as a form of domestic terrorism and hate crime.
Specifically, the NSBA urged the federal government to invoke counterterrorism laws to stop angry mobs of parents who sought to hold school officials accountable for race and sex indoctrination as well as for imposing harsh Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions on children. (Related: Schools are now encouraging children to ‘transition’ without telling parents.)
The senators said they had to remind Garland of his promise because the DOJ has once again been asked to censor debates over the issue of children being put through irreversible transgender procedures.
While the senators noted that violence and threats are not protected speech and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, they quickly added that “parents who voice their concerns about the health and safety of their children, or express opinions on matters of public policy more generally, are engaged in core First Amendment activity.”
Pediatric care organizations promote dangerous gender-affirming healthcare
The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association and Children’s Hospital Association sent a letter to Garland on October 3, asking the DOJ to help them with alleged “threats” and “harassment” because of the “gender-affirming healthcare” that they provide.
In a language similar to that of the NSBA letter, the organizations said that they had been targeted and threatened for providing “evidence-based healthcare,” adding that the attacks “have not only made it difficult and dangerous for institutions and practices to provide this care, [but] they have also disrupted many other services to families seeking care.”
“Our organizations have called on technology companies to do more to prevent this practice on digital platforms, and we now urge your office to take swift action to investigate and prosecute all organizations, individuals, and entities responsible,” their letter went on.
The DOJ continues to get these requests because Garland’s response to the NSBA letter set a very bad precedent.
The senators told Garland that his actions with regard to the NSBA letter sent an inappropriate message that federal law enforcement can and will be used to aid one side of the political debate and to either silence or stop the speech of the other.
“We call upon you to reaffirm that you will faithfully protect the First Amendment rights of all Americans to peacefully debate this and all other policy questions, irrespective of viewpoint,” the senators said. “The weaponization of federal law enforcement agencies like the DOJ, in order to produce preferred policy outcomes, cannot continue – our democracy depends on it.”
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