Attorneys for Mark Houck are moving to dismiss federal charges against the pro-life father arrested in a dramatic FBI dawn raid in front of his children.
Houck’s legal team filed a motion to dismiss charges this week in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, alleging that the Justice Department is violating the Constitution by engaging in “viewpoint discrimination” and “selective prosecution” against Houck.
The pro-life father was arraigned on Sept. 27 on two counts of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act when, outside a Pennsylvania abortion clinic, Houck allegedly pushed a pro-abortion activist who was allegedly antagonizing his son. Houck plead not guilty to the federal charges.
The Houck team also accused the DOJ of violating the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment’s protection for the free exercise of religion. The lawyers also challenged the constutionality of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act itself.
“The Biden administration has filed two defective and discriminatory charges against Mark Houck under the FACE Act, and both should be dismissed,” Thomas More Society Vice President and Senior Counsel Peter Breen said in a statement. “Both counts allege that Mark Houck interfered with a volunteer so-called ‘escort,’ when in reality, it was that escort who initiated the incidents and wronged Mark Houck—first obstructing Mark’s sidewalk counseling and then harassing his 12-year-old son.”
The motion to dismiss emphasizes that the government is “brazenly” ignoring the aggressive behavior of the man, “Mr. Love,” who has accused Houck of shoving him to the ground.
It also points out that the Biden administration has “altogether failed to prosecute more than 150 acts of physical damage and destruction inflicted on pregnancy resource centers and churches across the country—in express violation of FACE—since the leak of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in May 2022.”
“Yet it has filed FACE charges against no fewer than 26 pro-life individuals in 2022—an exponentially higher number than any time in recent history, while prominent and nationwide pro-abortion FACE violations remain unpunished,” the motion says (citing The Daily Signal’s deep dive into the DOJ’s apparently selective enforcement of the FACE Act).
“The Department of Justice has demonstrated clear and illegal hostility to the pro-life viewpoint in its statements and enforcement decisions, running roughshod over fundamental religious freedoms and free speech rights, and bringing an illegal selective prosecution here,” Breen said in a statement. He further noted that the Constitution does not grant general police power to the federal government.
“Yet a general police power is what the government seeks to exercise here, indicting Mr. Houck for actions that lack any federal jurisdictional nexus and that are, at most, a matter of state law,” Breen said. “Application of FACE to Mr. Houck exceeds the bounds of any powers granted to the federal government by the Constitution and offends both principles of federalism and the Tenth Amendment.”
“This case is being brought solely to intimidate people of faith and pro-life Americans,” Breen said. “Mark Houck is innocent of these lawless charges, and we intend to prove that in court.”
The DOJ did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Daily Signal.
Houck’s arrest has sparked a national outcry against the Justice Department as conservatives point to the discrepancies between the DOJ’s targeting of pro-lifers and its apparent unwillingness to pursue charges in the vast number of attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers and churches since the leak of the draft Supreme Court opinion indicating that Roe v. Wade would soon be overturned.
The Daily Signal first reported in October that Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Mike Johnson, R-La., launched a congressional inquiry into the Justice Department’s political enforcement of the FACE Act.
“Several recent actions by the Department reinforce the conclusion that the Justice Department is using its federal law enforcement authority as a weapon against the administration’s political opponents,” the Republican congressmen wrote in the October letter. “Since the unprecedented leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Justice Department has politicized enforcement of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.”
They continued: “We write to conduct oversight of your authorization of a dawn raid of the home of a pro-life leader, in front of his wife and seven children, when he had offered to voluntarily cooperate with authorities.”
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