Virginia Republican Attorney General Jason Miyares sent a letter signed by 20 GOP attorneys general on Thursday to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas threatening legal action against its ‘un-American’ Disinformation Governance Board.
The letter claims that the new board violates the constitutional freedoms that attorneys general are called to defend.
“As the chief legal officers of our respective States, we the undersigned Attorneys General are tasked not just with enforcing the laws, but with protecting the constitutional rights of all our citizens,” the GOP leaders wrote.
“Today we write you to insist that you immediately cease taking action that appears designed exclusively for the purpose of suppressing the exercise of constitutional rights,” they added.
The letter also condemned the chilling impact the board would have on the free speech rights of Americans.
“The existence of the Disinformation Governance Board will inevitably have a chilling effect on free speech. Americans will hesitate before they voice their constitutionally protected opinions, knowing that the government’s censors may be watching, and some will decide it is safer to keep their opinions to themselves,” the letter stated.
The Republican attorneys general concluded with a warning of legal action if the Disinformation Governance Board moves forward.
“Unless you turn back now and disband this Orwellian Disinformation Governance Board immediately, the undersigned will have no choice but to consider judicial remedies to protect the rights of their citizens,” the letter concluded.
Miyares also released a statement along with the letter to reaffirm the need to protect free speech from the proposed DHS board.
“Freedom of speech is the bedrock of democracy. Instead of protecting and fostering it, this administration wants to create an organization that would have federal bureaucrats monitoring citizens’ speech. This would undoubtedly lead to Americans self-censoring their ideas and debates. I am concerned about the spread of false information, but creating a federal agency to police speech is not the way to address it. As the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I cannot stand by as the rights of every Virginian are being threatened. The war on the First Amendment must stop,” he wrote.
In addition to Virginia, the other states represented in the letter include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.
The effort comes following another letter by Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee sent to new Disinformation Governance Board leader Nina Jankowicz asking her to provide testimony regarding her new role.
The letter was signed by Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, a ranking member of the committee, along with 11 additional GOP House Judiciary Committee members.
“This Board is un-American, anti-democratic, and a dangerous escalation of the Biden Administration’s embrace of government-endorsed censorship,” the GOP leaders wrote to Jankowicz.
— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) May 5, 2022
On Monday, the DHS announced in a press release that there has already been confusion about the new board that is leading to a new assessment of its work.
“There has been confusion about the working group, its role, and its activities. The reaction to this working group has prompted DHS to assess what steps we should take to build the trust needed for the Department to be effective in this space,” the DHS noted.