FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—Has the Biden administration acted against the parental rights group Moms for Liberty after the leftist Southern Poverty Law Center put it on a “hate map” with chapters of the Ku Klux Klan?
The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project asked that question, demanding records from various agencies under the Freedom of Information Act. None of the agencies provided the documents within 30 days, so Heritage sued the agencies Thursday. (The Daily Signal is The Heritage Foundation’s news outlet.)
“We know that the radical Southern Poverty Law Center has targeted the patriots at Moms for Liberty, which resulted in an unhinged mob harassment campaign,” Mike Howell, director of the Oversight Project, said Thursday. “We also know the Biden administration and their weaponized law enforcement agencies work closely with the Southern Poverty Law Center.”
“Moms were harassed and targeted by their own federal government for speaking out during the COVID school shutdowns,” Tiffany Justice, co-founder of Moms for Liberty, said in a statement. “The Department of Justice labeled parents of public school kids ‘domestic terrorists.’ Then, the SPLC puts a target on our backs by falsely accusing us of anti-government extremism.”
“Exercising our free speech rights to attend public school board meetings that decide how our public schools operate is not ‘extremism.’ It is American,” Justice added. “We are very thankful The Heritage Foundation is standing with our moms and fighting to get the public information surrounding the Biden administration’s work with the SPLC.”
“Why would they not comply with public records requests?” the Moms for Liberty co-founder asked, referring to the Biden administration. “What do they have to hide? We look forward to the truth coming to light.”
Heritage and Howell sued the FBI, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Education.
The lawsuit, a copy of which was provided exclusively to The Daily Signal, “seeks the disclosure of records held by the United States government concerning actions that each defendant has or is planning on taking following the Southern Poverty Law Center designation of Moms For Liberty as an anti-government extremist group.”
Heritage’s Oversight Project sent five requests on July 13 under the Freedom of Information Act, seeking records that came up in a first-priority search for the term “Moms for Liberty” and the names of the group’s founders, “Tiffany Justice” and “Tina Descovich,” along with records in a second-priority search regarding the email domain “@splcenter.org.” The requests covered only documents dating from Jan. 1, 2020, to this past July 13.
The Southern Poverty Law Center long has branded mainstream conservative and Christian nonprofits “hate groups” or “antigovernment extremists,” also placing them on its map along with chapters of the Ku Klux Klan.
The SPLC has advocated leftist ideas in education through its education arm, Learning for Justice (formerly Teaching Tolerance). That arm advocated both gender ideology and critical race theory, which encourages students to find “systemic racism” throughout American institutions. The SPLC added Moms for Liberty, along with other parental rights groups such as Parents Defending Education, to its “hate map” in June.
As I explain in my book “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” the SPLC took the program it has used to bankrupt organizations associated with the Ku Klux Klan and weaponized it against conservative groups, partially to scare its donors into ponying up cash and partially to silence ideological opponents.
In 2019, amid a racial discrimination and sexual harassment scandal that led the SPLC to fire its co-founder, a former employee came forward to call the organization’s “hate” accusations a “highly profitable scam.”
The FBI used the SPLC’s“hate group” list to target “radical-traditional Catholics” in an infamous memo earlier this year. According to the SPLC’s logic, the entire Roman Catholic Church arguably should be listed as a “hate group” because the SPLC cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church in branding the Ruth Institute a “hate group.”
Yet President Joe Biden—a self-described devout Catholic—and his team have hosted SPLC leaders and staff at the White House at least 11 times since Jan. 20, 2021, and Biden nominated an SPLC attorney, Nancy Abudu, to a federal judgeship.
These connections suggest the Biden administration may have coordinated with the SPLC in targeting concerned parents.
Back in 2021, the Justice Department issued a memo urging an investigation of parents. That DOJ memo quickly followed a letter to Biden from the National School Boards Association comparing parents who protest school district policies to domestic terrorists and encouraging the president to use the Patriot Act against those parents. Later documents revealed that the White House had worked with the school board group to draft the letter.
The Justice Department ultimately rescinded the memo and the National School Boards Association apologized for the letter.
The Freedom of Information Act requests from Heritage’s Oversight Project seek to uncover whether the Biden administration has revived its attack on concerned parents in collaboration with the Southern Poverty Law Center.
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