Anyone who still doubts that “moderate” Merrick Garland’s Justice Department is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the far left should check out the news that Garland has threatened to investigate and prosecute parents who vigorously protest against school boards and teachers intent on indoctrinating school children in the racist, anti-American teachings of Critical Race Theory. Garland did so through this memorandum.
Garland claims that free-speech principles must yield when they represent “efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views.” Andy McCarthy notes an implicit exception if the individuals happen to be Sen. Sinema or Sen. Manchin.
The implicit exception is broader. It extends to Republican officials, whom Maxine Waters urged her followers to intimidate in public. And it extends to conservative college students and the speakers they invite to campus only to be shouted down and sometimes physically attacked. (Garland’s memo cites no evidence of physical attacks on school board members, much less a pattern of such attacks.)
McCarthy points out that when he worked with Garland in the Justice Department, the future attorney general was extremely solicitous of the free speech rights of Islamists who heaped hatred and abuse on America and the West. Garland counseled that the First Amendment protects speech unless it unambiguously calls for the use of force that the speaker clearly intends, under circumstances in which the likelihood of violence is real and imminent. Even actual “threats of violence” are not actionable unless they meet this high threshold.
It follows that, contrary to Garland’s memorandum, the First Amendment fully protects speech evincing “efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views.”
Garland understood this when the rights of Muslim radicals were at issue. Yet, when it comes to parents who show up at school board meetings hoping to defend their children from being taught (if they’re White) that their parents and their country are racist, and that they (the students themselves) are privileged racists in the making, Garland wants to crack down.
McCarthy argues that Garland’s action is consistent with the approach taken by the DOJ throughout the Obama administration. He cites examples to prove the point.
Consistent? Yes, as a general matter. But this instance, a threatened crackdown on parent protests at school board meetings, strikes me as particularly egregious. Garland isn’t trying to protect Muslims, an insular minority group, from harsh criticism. He’s trying to protect politicians (but again not Sinema, Manchin, or any Republican) from harsh criticism by their constituents.
Even if one were convinced that Judge Garland, a progressive but reputedly not a radical, was the best one could hope for in a Biden-appointed attorney general, he is proving to be no better than, say, a Keith Ellison or Larry Krasner would have been. There are good reasons for this. No matter how moderate and how big a Justice Department institutionalist Garland may be, it would take an AG with strong personality and the backing of a strong president to hold the crazies at bay. And we have neither.
More to the point (the point being the faux-moderate weakling in the Oval Office), Biden is not going to be able to deliver to progressives the FDR-style transformative legislative victories they covet. Democrats’ congressional majorities are razor-thin, probably temporary, and consumed by infighting. Biden is intimidated by the Bolshevik left, which is why he could not even bring himself to defend Sinema. Since he cannot satisfy the radicals legislatively, he will have to do what it is in his power to do unilaterally. That means unleashing the Justice Department to bludgeon the Left’s political opposition into submission with lawless threats of enforcement action.
It’s going to be a very long 40 months.
I agree generally. However, I very much doubt that, at this point, Garland is either a moderate or a DOJ institutionalist. He answers better to McCarthy’s description of Joe Biden — a faux-moderate weakling.
Thank God, Merrick Garland never made it to the Supreme Court.
UPDATE: A lawyer friend tells me that Garland’s memorandum is “huffing and puffing done to scratch a political itch.” He notes the absence in the memo of any citation to a statute or other basis for federal jurisdiction that could support an indictment in one of these cases.
In addition to “scratching a political itch,” the memo is designed, unconscionably, to intimidate parents who attend school board meetings to protest against teaching CRT. However, says my friend, no parent should be afraid on account of it.
I suspect that few will be, and anyone prosecuted by the DOJ for non-violent conduct as a result of this memo will very likely find pro bono legal representation and beat the rap.
UPDATE WITH VIDEO: Sen. Hawley grilled Lisa Monaco, the Deputy Attorney General, about the memorandum. Monaco pretended that federal law enforcement will intervene at the school board level only in cases of violence. But the memo addresses not just violence but “harassment” and “intimidation.”
Hawley asked Monaco to define these terms as they are used in the memo. She wouldn’t do it. Rather, she kept falling back on the lie that the memo only addresses violence.
Let’s remember, too, that the DOJ has no free-floating authority to investigate and prosecute violence at the local level.