Lankford Demands Justice Department Stop Labeling Parents As Domestic Terrorists

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) led a letter today along with Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Braun (R-IN), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Mike Lee (R-UT), John Boozman (R-AR), Rand Paul, M.D. (R-KY), and Josh Hawley (R-MO) to US Attorney General Merrick Garland to defend parents who advocate for their children. The Senators demand that Garland immediately and publicly rescind an October 4th memorandum targeting parents who have spoken out at school board meetings in their local communities.  The letter also demands that Garland comply with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests made by 14 states that seek DOJ documents that led to the memorandum.  

The Senators wrote in their letter, “Parents have the right to direct the upbringing and education of their children. That does not make them terrorists. For you and your Department to claim otherwise is a gross misuse of your authority as the nation’s highest law enforcement official. Your October 4 memorandum must be immediately rescinded.”

Lankford introduced a resolution supporting parents’ rights after the Biden Administration politicized and weaponized the Justice Department by threatening to use federal law enforcement resources to intimidate and silence parents who speak out to protect their children from harmful curricula like critical race theory being pushed by Biden and the far left. Lankford joined his colleagues to send a letter demanding answers from US Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on reports that he played a key role in orchestrating a letter from the National School Boards Association (NSBA) that called concerned parents “domestic terrorists.”

Lankford continues to stand firmly for parental rights and school choice. He recently called for the Senate to immediately pass his resolution to support parents having the freedom to choose the best educational environment for their kids. Lankford introduced the resolution during School Choice Week earlier this year, and it is supported by Heritage Action,, Center for Urban Renewal and Education, American Conservative Union, Faith and Freedom Coalition, Family Policy Alliance, American Association of Christian Schools, Association of Christian Schools International, First Liberty Institute, Alliance Defending Freedom, American Center for Law and Justice, Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee, and Family Research Council.

You can view the text of the letter HERE and below.

Dear Attorney General Garland,

We write to express continued concern that you have not yet rescinded the October 4 Memorandum titled “Partnership Among Federal, State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Law Enforcement To Address Threats Against School Administrators, Board Members, Teachers, and Staff” that targets parents who dare to speak up at school board meetings across the country. We demand that you immediately and publicly rescind the Memorandum.

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) has publicly apologized for its letter to President Biden- the very letter that prompted your October 4 Memorandum. NSBA has also conducted a formal review of its processes and procedures to ensure this incident is not repeated. However, the Department of Justice (DOJ) refuses to similarly admit wrongdoing.

We also remain concerned that the Counterterrorism and Criminal Divisions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) created a threat tag “EDUOFFICIALS” to track these alleged threats. It should go without saying that parents are not terrorists and critical FBI resources should not be used for this purpose. 

Our country is experiencing an uptick in actual violent crime. Several of our major cities hit new homicide records in 2021. Illicit drugs are flowing across our border and into our communities. But instead of cracking down on crime, you decided to target parents advocating for their children. This no doubt continues to have a chilling effect on parent participation at school board meetings, as parents are afraid to attend these meetings for fear of being investigated.

Additionally, you have stonewalled the request from fourteen states for internal communications at DOJ leading up to the October 4 Memorandum. These states have joined together in a lawsuit to pursue DOJ compliance with their Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Ironically, on March 15 you issued guidelines directing all executive branch departments and agencies to apply a presumption of openness when processing FOIA requests. You said “For more than fifty years, the Freedom of Information Act has been a vital tool for advancing the principles of open government and democratic accountability that are at the heart of who we are as public servants.” We agree. The American people deserve to know the circumstances surrounding this misuse of federal resources.

Parents have the right to direct the upbringing and education of their children. That does not make them terrorists. For you and your Department to claim otherwise is a gross misuse of your authority as the nation’s highest law enforcement official. Your October 4 Memorandum must be immediately and publicly rescinded. 

Thank you for your attention to this critically important issue and we look forward to your prompt response.