During Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Republican Senator Josh Hawley (MO.) grilled Attorney General Merrick Garland about an apparent “anti-Catholic bias” within the Department of Justice.
Hawley was grilling Garland about an FBI raid on a pro-life man.
In response, Garland noted the DOJ “protects all religions, all ideologies,” arguing the department “does not have any bias against any religion of any kind.”
But Hawley hit back, expressing “surprise” at Garland’s response and suggesting the DOJ is quick to dispense resources and intelligence against Catholics but is “turning a blind eye” to Americans being executed in the street.
The Missouri Republican then brought up Mark Houck’s story.
FBI agents arrested Houck in Kintnersville in September 2022, accusing him of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.
The Act means it’s a federal offense to use force with the desire to intimidate, injure, or interfere with those attempting to access a reproductive health care facility.
Houck had pushed the 72-year-old chauffeur of Planned Parenthood after the escort allegedly harassed Houck’s 12-year-old son outside of the Philadelphia Planned Parenthood. The incident occurred in October 2021.
Following Houck’s arrest, Hawley sent a letter to the Attorney General, claiming he had turned a “local dispute into a national case,” while he criticized how the FBI executed the search warrant, describing it as “extreme.”
The Missouri Republican queried why the DOJ sent “twenty to thirty SWAT-style agents… to [Houck’s residence] when “everybody else had declined to prosecute, and [Houck] offered to turn himself in?”
Garland defended the action as being the “safest” option.