The federal government isn't exactly a bastion of efficiency. In fact, entire late-night comedy routines have been written about the glacial pace of Washington. So how is it that Joe Biden's Justice Department managed to snap to attention and mobilize against parents within hours of the National School Board Association's complaint? That's simple, one legal group says, if it was the president's idea to begin with.
How much did the White House know about the NSBA's campaign against local parents -- and when did it know it? That's the question on everyone's minds as more people debate the attorney general's unusually rapid and over-reaching response.
"I can tell you from firsthand experience at the Department of Justice," former Trump official Gene Hamilton said, "working with prior attorneys general in other senior levels of government...that type of a timeline simply does not happen ever. Organizations send letters. Members of Congress send letters all the time to the Department of Justice [and] to other federal departments and agencies. No one ever responds. No one ever reacts within a matter of a few days and issues departmental guidance based on the contents of a request from an outside organization."
Hamilton's organization, America First Legal, smelled a rat. America First Legal is so convinced that the timing of the DOJ's announcement is fishy that it's pressuring Inspector General Michael Horowitz to investigate. In a letter to Horowitz, the group points out that the NSBA's letter to the president (which compared outspoken parents to "domestic terrorists") was dated Sept. 29 -- five days before Attorney General Merrick Garland unleashed the full force of the FBI on local communities. The government doesn't even process mail that fast!
"Nothing ever moves in government that quickly," Hamilton agreed, especially when you're talking about "massive cabinet agencies."
"Clearly, there was some amount of coordination that was involved here," he warned. No one gets that kind of special treatment "without some kind of understanding or agreement beforehand."
According to the people Hamilton's group consulted from the inside, "Biden Administration officials developed a plan to use a letter from an outside group ('not the usual suspects') as pretext for federal action to chill, deter, and discourage parents from exercising their constitutional rights and privileges," they write to Horowitz. Even though the DOJ's own staff warned that the federal government didn't have the authority to punish parents, they were told that "this was a White House priority and a deliverable would be created." Either the entire matter was precoordinated, America First Legal argues, "...[or] the normal clearance process and standard order both within the department (including legal sufficiency review by the Office of Legal Counsel, the Civil Rights Division, the Criminal Division, the Office of Legal Policy, and other components), and between the department and the White House Counsel's Office and the Office of Management and Budget, were bypassed or corrupted."
The only way the federal government could justify meddling in these local school board meetings was for someone to call for it. The NSBA's letter, asking the administration to jump into the debate and crack down on parents, was exactly the excuse the federal government needed. Deep down, the Democrats -- including Joe Biden -- know that radicalizing education is a losing issue for them. With every school board meeting, every irate parent, and every alleged administrative cover-up, their grip on the classroom is slipping -- and they know it. The only way to stop the bleeding is to put an end to this uprising. If that means weaponizing the DOJ against moms and dads, they'll do it. If it means abusing their power and ignoring the plain language of the Constitution, they'll do that too. They'll do anything because they know -- the future of their party's extremism depends on it.
"Garland knows this is dangerous nonsense," NRO's Andrew McCarthy pointed out. Anyone with his background and experience understands that the principle of free speech doesn't yield to anything and/or anyone. But then, McCarthy argues, "[the AG's memo] was not a good-faith effort to inform. It was an abusive effort to intimidate."
And let's not forget: this isn't Biden's first rodeo when it comes to collusion. Remember, back when Barack Obama was president, the Democrats turned local retaliation against parents into an art form. In Minnesota, when moms and dads protested the radical LGBT indoctrination in their district, the Southern Poverty Law Center not only labeled the organization a "hate group," it sued the parents and got Obama's DOJ involved. As Meg Kilgannon from my organization, the Family Research Council, explained on Monday's "Washington Watch," "There are all kinds of organizations that are putting tremendous pressure on schools. We've talked about the Southern Poverty Law Center a lot and over the years, and they have a tremendous influence...but organizations like the National Association of School Boards also contribute to that."
At the end of the day, this isn't about violence or threats of violence. (If it were, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) pointed out, the president would be taking America's real crime problem much more seriously.) This is about shutting up parents so that the Left can continue treating schools like indoctrination camps.
"There's not even a half-hearted attempt to suggest that this was done for a legitimate law enforcement purpose," Hamilton's colleague, Stephen Miller, said. "It seems quite obvious that it is meant to chill free speech and intimidate parents into silence and into obedience."
Fortunately, parents -- as everyone but the Left seems to know -- have no intentions of going quietly. And neither should anyone who cares about the future of this great nation.
Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council.
Editor's Note: This piece originally appeared on Family Research Council.