The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act of 1994, enforced by the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, was created with two goals in mind: protect persons seeking reproductive health services and those seeking to exercise religious freedom. In a new letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) accuse the DOJ of pursuing access to abortion services while ignoring the latter objective.
“The DOJ’s brazen pursuit (and subsequent online promotion) of—at best—frivolous prosecutions in the abortion context, combined with its failure to list any prosecutions or enforcement activities in the religious worship context, gives the distinct impression of a warped and biased enforcement of FACE by the DOJ,” the senators wrote.
History supports their accusation. Not only did Lynch ignore religious liberty in her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month, but the majority of FACE cases appear to focus on the protection of abortion clinics. Not one case on the Civil Rights Division webpage mentions the agency’s goal to defend churches.
The FBI has noted that although violence at abortion clinics rose during the 1980s, since the FACE Act was enforced, that violence has dropped dramatically.
This has led legal experts like The Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky to suggest the FACE Act is being intentionally applied with a lopsided, pro-abortion agenda.
“Look at the church burnings that have occurred in the past two decades,” he said. “The idea that one’s not more important than the other, I think, is not correct. And second, a number of the cases [the Justice Department] has filed have been clearly frivolous and meritless cases.”
Because of the agency’s apparent bias, the senators have asked the DOJ to provide them with detailed information about the organizations affected by FACE, both in regards to abortion and religious freedom. They want a full report by April 11.