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Political Editors / October 8, 2021

In Brief: A Lawless Threat Against American Parents

AG Merrick Garland is attempting to silence constitutionally protected complaints about school policy.

Remember when Merrick Garland was Barack Obama’s “moderate” nominee for the Supreme Court? The compromise candidate that should placate conservatives mourning Antonin Scalia’s death? What a distant memory. Now-Attorney General Garland’s recent threat against parents who object to school mask mandates, teaching critical race theory, or other left-wing school policies should put that to bed. Especially after revelations of Garland’s familial ties to CRT propaganda.

Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy lays out the problem with Garland’s plan, with a little personal context:

On Monday, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memorandum in which he wailed about the “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.” Clearing his throat with an empty nod to the inconvenient fact that the Constitution protects “spirited debate,” Garland incorrectly — indeed, outrageously for someone of his experience as a Justice Department official and federal appellate judge — claimed that free-speech principles yield not only to “threats of violence” but also to “efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views” (at least, evidently, individuals not named Sinema or Manchin).

Garland knows this is dangerous nonsense. I personally know that he knows it. He was a high-ranking official in the Clinton Justice Department, which gave me a very hard time — though it ultimately relented — when I proposed charging a notorious terrorist with soliciting acts of violence and seditious conspiracy.

We had elaborate evidence, much of it in the form of recorded statements, showing that Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman believed himself to be in a forcible war against the United States, that his followers had carried out and plotted terrorist attacks, and that he had personally called for both bombings of American military installations and the murder of Egypt’s then-president.

Yet, with the Clinton administration under pressure from left-wing and Islamist groups aligned with the Democratic Party, I was darkly cautioned about the inviolable carapace of free expression and the imperative to avoid “chilling” speech by conflating criminal incitement with constitutionally protected rhetoric that expressed hatred for America — even rhetoric that bitterly attacked American officials and insisted that our governing system should be supplanted.

Garland well knows, as he and Clinton officials stressed to me nearly 30 years ago, that in the incitement context, 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.

Oh, and by the way, says McCarthy, “there is no federal law-enforcement interest to vindicate.” Nevertheless, this weaponization of government is all too familiar:

The Biden Justice Department is just a continuation of the Obama Justice Department, which was the most politicized in American history. The Obama/Biden administration modus operandi was to make the process the penalty — in this case, the investigative process, coupled with the threat of Justice Department criminal or civil prosecution, no matter how invalid.

This is not law enforcement. It’s lawless political hackery. McCarthy argues that it’s all in service to the Left’s larger agenda:

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.

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