Republicans allowing violent threats to fester by calling for Merrick Garland's resignation: columnist
Judge Merrick Garland testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination to be US Attorney General(AFP)

One Republican senator after another harangued attorney general Merrick Garland, and two even called on him to resign.

Nearly every Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee attacked President Joe Biden's attorney general for issuing a memo urging prosecution for death threats directed at school board officials, and Sens. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) are putting those public servants at greater risk by calling on Garland to step down, reported MSNBC's Steve Benen.

"My larger concern is that the intensity of the Republican pushback will have a chilling effect," Benen wrote. "How many officials at the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security might start hesitating in response to legitimate threats against local school boards because they're afraid GOP lawmakers and governors will get hysterical again?"

He compared the ginned-up controversy to a 2009 report commissioned by the Bush administration that warned of the gathering threat from right-wing extremists that GOP lawmakers complained was an attack on conservatives, and which led to a scaled-back response.

"The chilling effect was obvious: The Department of Homeland Security simply didn't want to have to deal with the GOP's misguided fury," Benen wrote. "More than a decade later, here's hoping the Justice Department is able to focus on public safety, regardless of the partisan pushback."