Congressional Republicans are calling for Attorney General Merrick Garland to stand down after the National School Boards Association (NSBA) apologized for its controversial letter urging the administration to investigate school board opposition.
“The entire basis for Biden’s DOJ to treat parents as ‘domestic terrorists’ has been dismantled after the NSBA said they ‘regret and apologize’ for the letter,” tweeted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
“DOJ should retract the memo & the Biden Admin owes parents an apology and a commitment to end this baseless targeting.”
McCarthy was referring to the nationwide investigation Garland announced shortly after the NSBA sent its letter suggesting school board opposition might contain elements of domestic terrorism. Garland’s announcement came in a memo defending parents’ right to “spirited debate.” However, NSBA’s language and the memo’s concerns about potential intimidation prompted criticism.
Also on Monday, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee told Garland “the only responsible course of action is for you to fully and unequivocally withdraw your memorandum immediately.”
“Now it’s time for Joe Biden and Merrick Garland to apologize for threatening to sic the FBI on concerned parents,” said Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.
“It’s good that @NSBAPublicEd apologized for this atrocity. But the investigation is still coming.”
Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, similarly asked: “Will the AG reverse?” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., went further in calling for Garland’s resignation.
“Merrick Garland mobilized the FBI to intimidate parents without legal basis and, we now know, premised on misinformation he didn’t bother to verify,” Hawley tweeted.
“It was a dangerous abuse of authority that has badly compromised the Justice Dept’s integrity and Garland’s. He should resign.”
During Thursday’s House Judiciary hearing, Garland distanced himself from the NSBA’s phrasing.
“The Justice Department supports and defends the First Amendment right of parents to complain as vociferously as they wish about education of their children, about the curriculum taught in the schools. That is not what the memorandum is about at all or does it use the words ‘domestic terrorism’ or ‘Patriot Act,’” he said, referring to the Bush-era law that was referenced in NSBA’s letter.
“I can’t imagine any circumstance in which the Patriot Act would be used in the circumstances of parents complaining about their children, nor can I imagine a circumstance where they would be labeled as domestic terrorism.”