The Department of Justice has also not charged a single protestor under a statute that makes protesting outside of a Supreme Court justice's home illegal, and a Pennsylvania pro-life activist, Mark Houck, was been charged under federal law.
Houck was arrested during an FBI raid after being accused of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE Act)
Approximately 20 heavily armed FBI agents arrested the 48-year-old at his home at gunpoint on Sept. 23 and placed him in handcuffs in front of his wife and children. Houck was arrested at his home in Kintnersville, Pennsylvania in connection to an altercation with an abortion escort outside an abortion clinic in October 2021. Houck would be found not guilty of the charges in January 2023.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) asked Garland about Houck, explaining that "He's a pro-life activist and father of seven in Philadelphia. Based on the fact that he had pushed a protestor, or a Planned Parenthood escort as he was demonstrating outside an area in the Philadelphia region.
"He pushed this person after this person got in the face of his 12-year-old son and was yelling vile, insulting, demeaning implicitly threatening things. Denigrating his father, denigrating his faith, and yelling vile, sexually suggestive things to his 12-year-old son. So, he shoved him, then, before he knew it, Mr. Howe was facing FACE Act prosecution, a highly militarized group of DOJ law enforcement showed up at 7 am on Friday morning to enforce a warrant, and as Houck's wife put it, 'a SWAT team of about 25 came to my house with about 15 vehicles and started pounding on the door and had about five guns pointed at myself, my husband, and basically my kids.'
"This concerns me," Lee continued. "Mr. Houck ended up facing these charges and not surprisingly, the jury acquitted him of that. I'm wondering, it doesn't seem justifiable to me to have that overwhelming show of force or conduct like that. In the meantime, in 2022 and for the first couple of months of 2023, DOJ announced charges against 34 individuals for 'blocking access to, or vandalizing abortion clinics.' There have been over 81 reported attacks on pregnancy centers, 130 attacks on Catholic churches since the leak of the Dobbs decision, and only 2 individuals have been charged. How do you explain this disparity by reference to anything other than the politicization of what's happening there?"
Garland responded, "The FACE act applies equally to efforts to damage, blockade, clinics ... whether they are pregnancy resource centers, or whether they are an abortion center. It applies equally in both cases and we apply the law equally."
He continued to say, "I will say that you're quite right, there are many more prosecutions in respect to the blocking of the abortion centers, but that is generally because those actions are taken with photography at the time, during the daylight, and seeing the person who did it is quite easy.
"Those who are attacking the pregnancy resources centers, which is a horrid thing to do, are doing this at night in the dark. We have put full resources into this. We have put rewards out for this. The Justice Department and the FBI have made outreach to Catholic and other organizations to ask for their help in identifying the people who are doing this. We will prosecute every case against pregnancy resource centers that we can make, but these people who are doing this are clever and are doing it in secret and I'm convinced that the FBI is trying to find them with urgency."
Garland expressed a similar sentiment in a 2021 Senate hearing regarding Garland’s nomination for US Attorney General.
In regards to Antifa attacks on federal property across the country, Garland was asked by Sen. Josh Hawley, "Do you regard assaults on federal courthouses or other federal property as acts of domestic extremism, domestic terrorism?"
"Well Senator, my own definition, which is about the same as the statutory definition, is the use of violence or threats of violence in an attempt to disrupt democratic processes. So an attack on a courthouse while in operation, trying to prevent judges from actually deciding cases, that plainly is domestic extremism, domestic terrorism.
"An attack simply on a government property, at night, or any other kind of circumstances is a clear crime and a serious one and should be punished. I don't know enough about the facts of the example you're talking about, but that's where I draw the line.
"Both are criminal, but one is a core attack on our Democratic institutions," Garland said.This is a breaking story and will be updated.
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