Cruz accused the attorney general of exaggerating the threats faced by educators
Senator Cruz was questioning Merrick Garland during a Senatets rettsutvalg hearing over a memo by the US attorney general directing the Justisdepartementet to probe the rise in threats against school staff.
The Texas senator asked Mr Garland whether Nazi salutes are constitutionally protected under free speech.
Mr Cruz also accused the attorney general of exaggerating the threats and harassment faced by educators over school policies such as mask mandates, teaching of critical race theory, and rules protecting the rights of queer students.
He said that of the 20 incidents cited, “15 on their face are non-violent.”
“They involved insults, they involved a Nazi salute, that’s one of the examples,” han sa. “My god! A parent did a Nazi salute at a school board meeting because they thought the policy was oppressive. Attorney General Garland, is doing a Nazi salute at an elected official protected by the First Amendment?” Mr Cruz asked.
“Yes it is” Mr Garland responded.
The attorney general has been at the centre of the controversy since his 4 October memo, in which he asked federal officials to work alongside local law enforcement and discuss strategies to address “a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation and threats of violence against school administrators, boards members, teachers and staff at public schools across the country.”
His request came after the National School Boards Association wrote a letter to president Joe Biden on 29 september, highlighting the safety concerns of school personnel.
Siden da, Mr Garland has made two appearances before the Senate Judiciary Committee within a week to defend his memo as Republikanere accused him of overreaching.
På onsdag, Mr Garland faced blistering attacks not just from Mr Cruz but also from other Republican lawmakers, including Ben Sasse, Josh Hawley and Tom Cotton.
Mr Cotton said Mr Garland “should resign in disgrace” over the memo.
He brought up the high-profile case of a man protesting the sexual assault of his daughter in a school in Virginia.
“And that man, because he went to the school board and tried to defend his daughter’s rights, was condemned internationally,” said Mr Cotton in an apparent reference to the arrest of Scott Smith for disorderly conduct during the Loudoun County School Board meeting.
Mr Cotton was referring to the incident of sexual assault in a restroom at the Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn in Northern Virginia’s Loudoun County on 28 Kan. Mr Smith was arrested during a school board meeting as officials were discussing school bathroom policies.
The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that a 14-year-old male was arrested in connection with the 28 May assault, reported Associated Press (AP).
Mr Garland defended the memo and said that it “responds to concerns about violence, threats of violence, other criminal conduct.”
“That’s all it’s about, and all it asks, is for federal law enforcement to consult with, meet with local law enforcement to assess the circumstances, strategise about what may or may not be necessary to provide federal assistance, if it is necessary," han sa.
(With inputs from agencies)