Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
A pair of conservative advocacy groups have joined to sue the Justice Department over its failure to adequately address attacks on pro-life centers, churches, and individuals.
The Christian Post was the first to report that the Heritage Foundation and Advancing American Freedom, the latter of which is backed by former Vice President Mike Pence, had filed a civil lawsuit in the district court of Washington, D.C., asking that the DOJ be forced to honor a Freedom of Information Act request for “records related to DOJ’s actions concerning pregnancy resource centers and the Department’s possible failure to provide pro-life organizations victimized by crime with equal justice under law.”
Advancing American Freedom and @Heritage’s Oversight Project File Joint Lawsuit Against Department of Justice
— Advancing American Freedom (@AmericanFreedom) March 22, 2023
Heritage Foundation and Advancing American Freedom allege that the DOJ has violated FOIA law on numerous occasions by failing to respond to requests in a timely manner, not conducting a sufficient enough search for requested items, withholding non-exempt documents, and charging a fee to a non-profit and journalistic outlet for requested documents (the plaintiffs argue the request is subject to a fee waiver).
Most of these allegations are common in FOIA lawsuits. While governmental bodies are required to honor lawful FOIA requests, they also have the right to deny requests along specific grounds.
Even if a FOIA request is legitimate, there are many stall tactics a governmental body can use. Major FOIA requests often wind up before a judge.
DOJ RESPONSE ‘ANEMIC AT BEST’
While the relief sought is exclusively related to the FOIA request, the root of the case is a desire from conservatives to gather the information they need to demonstrate that, under Attorney General Merrick Garland, pro-life organizations and individuals have been given the short shrift.
“In the past several years, this Country has seen a dramatic increase in violence against religious and pro-life organizations,” the filing reads. “But while the Department of Justice has aggressively enforced federal criminal laws to protect ‘pro-choice’ and other organizations espousing the Administration’s favored political or policy views, all publicly available evidence indicates that the Department’s response to this increased violence against religious and pro-life organizations has been anemic at best.”
Conservatives have been livid over a perceived inability or unwillingness on the part of the Justice Department to pursue and prosecute the people responsible for a wide uptick in attacks on pro-life facilities, especially in the months leading up to and following the Dobbs decision, which struck down Roe v. Wade.
HOUSE COMMITTEE GRILLED GARLAND
Earlier this month, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee took turns grilling Garland over a lack of arrests in these cases, especially when compared to the numerous arrests of pro-life activists across the country, including one instance in which pro-life father Mark Houck was arrested at gunpoint in front of his children when armed FBI agents raided his home. A jury later found Houck not guilty of charges of violating the FACE act.
“[The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act] applies equally in both cases and we apply the law equally,” Garland said during the hearing.
Conservatives, both in Congress and in the courtroom, vehemently disagree.
“It is clear that President Biden’s politicized Department of Justice is fearful of igniting the wrath of the Far Left and abortion extremists,” J. Marc Wheat, general counsel for AAF, said in a statement. “The American people have a right to know why those who burned and vandalized pregnancy centers have not been held accountable for their violence against traditional conservatives and pro-life groups.”