FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—Conservative leaders are calling on House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan and Speaker of the House Mike Johnson to pass the FACE Act Repeal Act of 2023 “as soon as possible.”
“In the aftermath of additional pro-life activists being convicted by the Biden administration under the FACE Act for peacefully protesting outside an abortion business, we respectfully urge you to take immediate legislative action to protect peaceful pro-life activists from the Biden administration’s weaponized Department of Justice and an unconstitutional law,” the leaders said in a Wednesday letter first obtained by The Daily Signal.
That letter, led by Advancing American Freedom, is signed by Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life of America, Tom McClusky of CatholicVote, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Tom Brejcha of the Thomas More Society, Ryan Anderson of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Lila Rose of Live Action, and Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America.
“The Biden administration has weaponized the FACE Act against peaceful pro-life sidewalk counselors and activists who want to save lives and change hearts and minds,” AAF Executive Director Paul Teller told The Daily Signal. “Justice should be blind. But pro-abortion activists who have scaled bridges shutting down main roads, posted the home addresses of Supreme Court justices, and vandalized and firebombed pro-life pregnancy centers have not faced the FBI showing up on their doorstep.”
“The First Amendment protects the right to peacefully assemble, and the FACE Act criminalizes that right,” he added. “There can be no two-tiered system of justice in our nation.”
The letter says that there is “no question as to whether the FACE Act is being disproportionately applied to pro-lifers.”
“Despite official requests from members of Congress, sparse data is available regarding FACE Act prosecutions,” the letter continues. “However, our best estimates indicate that the FACE Act has been used ~130 times with just 5 FACE Act charges being leveled against pro-abortion activists.”
The FACE Act, which is supposed to protect not only abortion clinics, but also pregnancy resource centers and places of worship, was never used to protect pro-life pregnancy centers or churches until Republicans took back the House and “promised to end President [Joe] Biden’s reign of woke and weaponized government,” the leaders noted.
“This is despite hundreds of pro-life pregnancy centers and churches being attacked since the Dobbs decision was leaked in May of 2022,” the letter continued. “To date, the federal government has never used the FACE Act to protect a church.”
“We believe that the FACE Act is unconstitutional,” the leaders told Jordan and Johnson. “It wrongly usurps police powers reserved to the states by the Constitution and allows the Department of Justice to swoop in to punish its political enemies, rather than equally applying the law. Additionally, the FACE Act protects abortion, when taking the life of the unborn is no longer and never rightly was a constitutional right.”
The leaders urge Johnson and Jordan to mark up and pass Rep. Chip Roy’s HR 5577, the FACE Act Repeal Act of 2023, “as soon as possible.” Roy, R-Texas, introduced this legislation in September, The Daily Signal first reported, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, introduced a Senate version of the bill.
“Free Americans should never live in fear of their government targeting them because of their beliefs,” Roy said in September. “Yet, Biden’s Department of Justice has brazenly weaponized the FACE Act against normal, everyday Americans across the political spectrum, simply because they are pro-life.”
“Our Constitution separates power between the federal government and the states for a reason, and we ignore that safeguard at our own peril,” he added. “The FACE Act is an unconstitutional federal takeover of state police powers. It must be repealed.”
Roy also led an effort to defund enforcement of the FACE Act in April 2023, but the proposal died when it was not included in the House Appropriations subcommittee draft.
The letter comes on the heels of a Nashville, Tennessee, jury finding six pro-life activists guilty of violating the FACE Act, resulting from their peaceful protest in the hallway outside a Mount Juliet abortion clinic in March 2021. Pro-life activists Chet Gallagher, Coleman Boyd, Heather Idoni, Cal Zastrow, Dennis Green, and Paul Vaughn face up to 11 years in prison, The Daily Wire’s Leif Le Mahieu reported.
Leaders of three pro-life groups similarly called on Johnson and Jordan on Wednesday to schedule HR 5577 for consideration in the House Judiciary Committee—and for the House to consider and pass the bill once reported out of the committee.
“We are grateful for your efforts to protect pro-life individuals and entities from the rising occurrences of vandalism and violence,” wrote Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser, March for Life Action President Jeanne Mancini, and Americans United for Life General Counsel Steven Aden.
“You have repeatedly called for justice, especially as the instances rose dramatically since the leaked opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization,” they noted. “Not only is the Biden administration turning a blind eye to injustices committed against pro-life entities, but it is brazenly using the FACE Act to target and sentence peaceful pro-life advocates as if they were violent criminals.”
The pro-life leaders emphasized that “now is the time for action,” accusing Biden’s administration of “targeting and devastating the lives of prayerful, peaceful pro-life advocates.”
“Because of [the administration’s] repeated abuses of the law,” they wrote, “the law itself has been perverted and is no longer helpful or just.”
“This legislation builds on House passage of then-Congressman Johnson’s resolution condemning violence against pro-life entities,” the pro-life leaders continued. “Additionally, the need is well established in Chairman Jordan’s report highlighting the ways the Biden administration has unfairly weaponized the FBI—and particularly, the FACE Act— to criminalize and incarcerate pro-life Americans.”
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