CV NEWS FEED // Lawmakers confronted Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke over her department’s allegedly discriminatory practices during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday morning.
Leading the charge was Chip Roy, R-TX, a former U.S. attorney who stated in his opening that in that role “my job was to equally enforce the law.”
“Justice is blind and we must follow the facts wherever they take us,” Roy said. “Like all components of the Justice Department, the Civil Rights Division is expected to do the same: equally enforce the law.”
“Unfortunately, under the Biden administration this has not always been the case,” Roy stated:
The Civil Rights Division has fixed its sight for example on those charged with protecting us – police departments – often harassing these departments to the point where they cannot do their jobs. There have been a series of investigations … eleven times over the last two years we’ve seen a significant disparity.
Roy said that these investigations represented just a “few examples of how the [Department of Justice (DOJ)] Civil Rights Division have targeted those who protect our communities.”
“In the midst of rising crime, plummeting police recruiting, open borders, mountains of Fentanyl, the DOJ is prioritizing investigations with small- to mid-sized police departments,” the congressman said. He stated that Clarke’s division was “using the law to advantage or disadvantage certain states and individuals.”
Roy also challenged Clarke’s and the rest of the Biden administration’s interpretation of the controversial Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. He noted that this law “protects abortion clinics, pregnancy resource centers, and houses of worship alike.”
“However,” he continued, “the division of prosecution under the FACE Act shows a significant bias toward prosecuting FACE Act violations involving abortion clinics.” In making this point, Roy specifically referenced the case of pro-life activist Mark Houck.
The lawmaker also stated that the leak of the Supreme Court’s draft Dobbs decision “gave rise to widespread demonstrations and attacks on pro-life facilities.”
“In fact following the leak, more than a hundred pro-life facilities were vandalized or damaged including by arson,” he said. “Two hundred eighteen Catholic churches have been attacked” since the Dobbs leak, Roy added, citing CatholicVote’s violence tracker.
“In the face of this increase, you would expect the civil rights division to step up and protect the civil rights of these Americans.” But they did not, he explained:
In 2022, the Department brought 26 prosecutions under the FACE Act. All of them involved alleged incidents at abortion clinics. In 23, the Department has identified for the committee one prosecution of four individuals in Florida who spray painted threats on pregnancy resource centers in the state. This marked the first time in American history that the FACE Act was used against pro-abortion protesters.
Roy also noted that there have been “literally pages of examples of anti-Semetic acts in the wake of” the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas.
“There has been basically silence,” he observed.
“It is true that the division must return to the nonpartisan work of protecting [the rights] of all Americans, not just those that it favors,” Roy said.
In September, Roy introduced a bill that would repeal the FACE Act.
“Protecting civil rights is essential to the Department of Justice,” the assistant attorney general stated in her opening address.
However, Roy quickly challenged her premise. He referred to a op-ed Clarke wrote for Newsweek in June 2020, during the height of the widespread riots following the death of George Floyd.
Roy read Clarke’s words:
I advocate for defunding policing operations that have made African Americans more vulnerable to police violence and contributed to mass incarceration, while investing more in programs and policies that address critical community needs.
Since that time in the Summer of 2020, there have been significant drops in recruiting police nationwide, significant evidence of morale dropping for our police officers in communities across the country. Do you stand behind that statement in the op-ed… advocating for “defunding of policing operations?”
She replied: “The Justice Department fully supports funding and supporting our law enforcement.”
“But my question was different from that,” Roy fired back. “You penned [the op-ed], and you are the head of the Civil Rights Division.”
“I have not advocated for defunding law enforcement at the Justice Department,” Clarke replied.
Roy still did not believe that the assistant attorney general sufficiently answered his question. “You wrote that statement,” he said. “Do you stand behind that statement or do you now repudiate that statement?”
“I have not advocated for defunding law enforcement,” Clarke said, despite her previous words.
The FACE Act Double Standard
Roy then confronted Clarke over the Biden administration’s alleged double standard concerning FACE Act prosecutions.
“Can you tell us how many FACE Act cases have been filed since it was enacted in 1994?” he asked.
The Biden administration official hesitated to directly answer the question. “The [FACE Act] is an important law,” she said. “We apply it even-handedly,” Clarke went on to claim, before acknowledging that she does not “have statistics on the number of cases.”
The congressman continued:
Then my question is how many cases have been filed in defense of abortion providers or in defense of pro-abortion activists versus how many FACE Act cases have been filed in defense of pro-life Americans or churches that have been attacked?
Clarke answered that she believes in “outreach” so that “the public understands the FACE Act applies to both pro-choice and pro-life groups.”
“The numbers I have are that out of 130 uses of the FACE Act since 1994,” Roy noted. “126 were … in defense of abortion providers, and four have been for pro-life Americans and-or churches.”
Clarke again claimed that her division is “committed to full and even-handed enforcement of this important federal law.”
Rep. Tom McClintock, R-CA, also challenged Clarke over her apparent refusal to admit there is disparity in the enforcement of the FACE Act.
“The concern of many of us here involves the unequal application of the laws based on the political or ethnic identity of those involved,” he said. “[Roy] gave many examples involving everything from acts of violence against pro-life clinics to anti-Semetic hate crimes.”
“The law is only respected if applied evenly, so what can you tell us to address these concerns?” asked McClintock.
Clarke again stated that she believes the Biden administration’s DOJ is “committed to even-handed enforcement of the law.”
“What you say and what you do seem to be very different things,” the California lawmaker pointed out. “For example, how many prosecutions has your division initiated against violence and vandalism by [pro-abortion] groups such as Jane’s Revenge?”
McClintock again referred to the 126-4 spread revealed by Roy. “Are these numbers correct? And if they are, how do you explain them?”
Again, Clarke refused to give the committee specific statistical evidence to back up her claim. She instead replied with the anecdote of the DOJ prosecuting one group of pro-abortion vandals in Florida earlier this year.
Is the Biden DOJ Political?
Later on in the hearing, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-OH, asked Clarke a simple question: “Do politics drive the decisions at the Justice Department today?”
“Politics have no place in the work of the Civil Rights Division,” Clarke answered.
“Three months ago the New Mexico governor announced a 30-day ban on a citizen’s right to carry a concealed firearm in Albuquerque,” Jordan stated. “What did the Justice Department do when the governor did that unconstitutional order?”
“Gun control is not a core issue that we handle,” Clarke claimed.
The “Second Amendment [is a] fundamental right like the First Amendment,” Jordan said. “It’s pretty important, isn’t it?”
Clarke said she agreed that it’s important. However, she was again not able to tell the committee what the Biden administration did in response to the New Mexico ban – which was heavily panned as unconstitutional, even by many left-wing Democrats and gun control activists.