In a letter to the attorney general, Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee accuse the Justice Department of pursuing frivolous prosecutions against pro-life groups and displaying a heavy bias in favor of abortion clinics over houses of worship.
The letter concerns the Justice Department’s enforcement of the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, a law that prohibits any use or threat of force and physical obstruction outside abortion clinics and places of religious worship. The law, however, does not criminalize peaceful protests or other First Amendment protected activities outside abortion facilities or places of worship.
Cruz and Lee reference the Civil Rights Division’s web page, which cites “more than 15 FACE actions in more than a dozen states” that the Justice Department has filed. The website also notes “ongoing investigations in other states,” along with “several FACE cases and settlement agreements concerning abortion clinic workers or abortion facilities.”
“Interestingly, it does not list a single case concerning the freedom of religious exercise at houses of worship,” Cruz and Lee write.
To further investigate the alleged double standard, Cruz and Lee are demanding that Lynch hand over a broad range of documents pertaining to the FACE Act dating back to January 2009.
For example, the senators requested the Justice Department “identify the number of matters the [Justice Department] has investigated, looked into, or reviewed concerning potential FACE enforcement” with regard to access to both abortion facilities and houses of worship.
They are also seeking information about whether or not the Justice Department coordinated or closely communicated with abortion facilities or houses of worship in any of its investigations.