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Ted Cruz Blasts Merrick Garland During Fiery Exchange Over DOJ's School Memo

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) slammed Attorney General Merrick Garland over a memo directing officials at the Department of Justice to look into threats against teachers.

Earlier this month, Garland issued a memo directing officials to investigate a “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation’s public schools.”

During the Wednesday hearing, Cruz blasted Garland over the threats cited.

“Of the 20, 15 on their face are non-violent. They involve things like insults, they involve a Nazi salute. That’s one of the examples. My God. A parent did a Nazi salute at a school board because he thought the policies were oppressive. General Garland, is doing a Nazi salute at an elected official, is that protected by the First Amendment?” Cruz said.

Garland replied, “Yes it is.”

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Cruz was not the only Republican lawmaker to go after Garland over the memo. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) asked Garland during the same hearing, “Did you consider the chilling effect this would have on parents’ constitutional rights?”

The attorney general began to respond, saying, “To say that the Justice Department is against violence and threats of violence…”

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Cornyn jumped in, “Did you consider the chilling effect your memorandum might have on parents exercising their constitutional rights? I think you can answer that yes or no.”

Garland explained, “I don’t believe it’s reasonable to read this memorandum as chilling anyone’s rights. It’s about threats of violence, and it expressly recognizes a constitutional right to make arguments about your children’s education.”

The National School Boards Association earlier this week apologized for a letter urging the president to use federal agencies to investigate the threats of violence against school officials, as Politico reported.

The outlet noted the organization received backlash “on all sides.”

“On behalf of NSBA, we regret and apologize for the letter,” a memo from the organization’s board stated to its members.

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It added, “There was no justification for some of the language included in the letter. We should have had a better process in place to allow for consultation on a communication of this significance. We apologize also for the strain and stress this situation has caused you and your organizations.”

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