‘Have You Apologized?’ Congressman Grills DOJ Official About Targeting of Catholic Father Mark Houck
Republican Texas Rep. Chip Roy grilled the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Department of Justice on Tuesday over the DOJ’s targeting of pro-life activists like Catholic father Mark Houck.
Kristen Clarke, who oversees investigations into violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, came before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government on Tuesday for a hearing on the “Oversight of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.”
The FACE Act protects both abortion clinics and pregnancy centers, but the Biden DOJ has largely used it to prosecute pro-life individuals.
During the hearing, Clarke told lawmakers, “Please know that the Division is committed to even handed enforcement of the FACE Act.”
Roy drew attention to the fact that Clarke’s division charged at least 26 individuals with FACE Act violations in 2022 and more in 2023.
“Even under your watch, its at least 35 to 1 or 2,” Roy emphasized. “That is not even-handed. It’s far from even handed. And importantly, Mark Houck, who was targeted, had a raid of his home, prosecuted under this, was acquitted by a jury! Have you apologized to him on behalf of the Department of Justice for that grave violation of his civil rights? Having his family have to watch him being raided at his home? And then he’s acquitted by a federal jury? Have you apologized to him?”
“We follow the facts and apply the law, that is our job, and we welcome opportunities to engage with other pro-life groups that may be experiencing threats or acts of violence,” she responded.
“So the answer to that is no,” Roy said.
The congressman was referring to the Catholic father of seven who was arrested and charged with violating the FACE Act in September 2022. The DOJ’s FACE Act charges stemmed from a 2021 incident outside a Philadelphia-based Planned Parenthood where Houck pushed an abortion clinic volunteer who was repeatedly harassing his son, Mark Jr. Local authorities ultimately dismissed the matter—until the Biden DOJ re-upped it in response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade .
Mark Houck and his wife, Ryan-Marie Houck, believe they were targeted by the Biden DOJ in an effort to intimidate, silence, and scare the family for their pro-life work—praying outside abortion clinics for the women headed inside to abort their unborn babies.
In November, the Houck’s sued the Biden administration for “malicious and retaliatory prosecution.”
Since 2022, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division has charged dozens of pro-life individuals with FACE Act violations. In 2023, the DOJ charged four individuals with FACE Act violations related to attacks on pregnancy centers in Florida, though at least 88 pregnancy centers and 218 churches have been attacked by pro-abortion vandals since the leak of the draft opinion indicating that Roe v. Wade would be overturned, according to CatholicVote.
Clarke has openly supported abortion and condemned pro-life pregnancy centers, which offer aid to women who are pregnant and need help. In the past, Clarke called pro-life pregnancy care centers “predatory” and “fake clinics,” and claimed they are part of a “coordinated strategy to tear down Roe,” as The Washington Free Beacon’s Chuck Ross reported .
Pro-abortion groups described her as “exactly the accomplished civil rights attorney who will bolster civil rights enforcement and ensure equal justice for all,” when President Joe Biden nominated her for the Civil Rights Division position in 2021.
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