Senate Judiciary Committee hearing over the FBI raid on a pro-life Christian man, and raised concerns about the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) “anti-Catholic bias.”
In September 2021, FBI agents arrested Mark Houck in Kintnersville, Pennsylvania, for allegedly violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which prohibits the use of force to intimidate or interfere with anyone producing reproductive health care.
The arrest stemmed from an altercation between Houck and a Planned Parenthood escort outside the clinic in Philadelphia. Hawley accused the DOJ of turning a “local dispute into a national case” and criticized the FBI for executing the search warrant “in extreme a manner as one can imagine.”
During the hearing, Hawley asked Garland if the FBI had an anti-Catholic bias and accused the agency of deploying resources against Catholics while “turning a blind eye” as people are executed in American cities. Garland denied the accusation and said that the DOJ protects all religions and ideologies.
Hawley also questioned why the FBI sent SWAT-style agents with long guns and ballistic shields to Houck’s house when he offered to turn himself in, and whether it was objectively necessary.
Garland said the decision was made by FBI agents on the ground, and he was not abdicating responsibility.
Hawley then referred to a Jan. 23 memorandum from the FBI field office in Richmond, Virginia, advocating for “the exploration of new avenues for tripwire and source development against traditionalist Catholics.”
Hawley asked Garland if the DOJ was cultivating sources and spies in Catholic parishes across the country, to which Garland denied the accusation and called the document “inappropriate.”
Hawley concluded that the FBI’s use of force against Catholics and innocent children was disgraceful and a waste of resources, and demanded that the DOJ take responsibility and hold agents accountable.