Home Local & State DeSantis backs parents amid strife over free speech

DeSantis backs parents amid strife over free speech

US Attorney General Merrick Garland Official Portrait. Public Domain.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland Official Portrait. Public Domain.

Gov. Ron DeSantis vowed to protect parents’ rights of free speech after the US Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memo announcing that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will prosecute some parents who make threats or efforts to intimidate. The memo was in response to a letter  sent by the  National School Board Association (NSBA) asking for action to be taken against parents and others. This has many nervous about speaking out at school board meetings across the country. Issued earlier this month, the memo also instructs the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to arrange a series of meetings with school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff, to formulate their responses to so-called “violence” at school board meetings.

We’re not going to let the federal government come in and impose bad policies or mandates on Floridians – we’re going to make sure we are protecting parents and students in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said during an Oct. 20 press conference in Titusville. “We’re not going to let the Department of Justice be weaponized to infringe first amendment rights of parents,”

The memo was issued after the National School Board Association (NSBA) sent a letter to President Joe Biden, likening parents who oppose the masking of kindergartners and teaching critical race theory in public schools to “domestic terrorists.”

In response to the memo, Attorney Generals from 17 states issued a letter of their own accusing the DOJ of suppressing parental free speech, and seeking an immediate end to any actions designed to “intimidate parents from expressing their opinions on the education of their children.”

Meanwhile, DeSantis said that Florida would not participate in any activities outlined in the memo.

As a state we are not going to be facilitating or participating in anything that was outlined in that memo because it’s just not appropriate,” DeSantis said. “Parents across the state should know that their freedoms are going to be protected here and that the state of Florida has your back.”