According to the Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm who is representing Houck, 20 heavily armed federal agents stormed his home at dawn on September 23, 2022, scaring his family, pointing guns at his head, and then arresting him in front of his wife and seven young children.
Houck, a devoted family man and community leader allegedly violated the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, commonly known as the FACE Act, outside of a Planned Parenthood abortion facility in October 2021. He is being charged over an altercation with an abortion activist who repeatedly targeted Houck’s 12-year-old son with vulgar verbal attacks, facts that according to Thomas More Society Vice President and Senior Counsel Peter Breen, do not fall under the federal FACE Act.
“This case is being brought solely to intimidate people of faith and prolife Americans,” stated Breen. “Mark Houck is innocent of these lawless charges, and we intend to prove that in court.”
In June 2022, Thomas More Society attorneys notified the Biden Department of Justice that caselaw in the same district had held that the FACE Act does not cover one-off altercations like the one involving Houck, which was initiated by the abortion proponent who was harassing Houck’s son. The Department of Justice was also advised that if the decision was made to bring a charge against Houck despite lack of legal foundation, Houck would appear voluntarily.
“Rather than accepting Mark Houck’s offer to appear voluntarily, the Biden Department of Justice chose to make a show of potentially deadly force, sending twenty heavily armed federal agents to the Houck residence at dawn this past Friday,” explained Breen. “In threatening form, after nearly breaking down the family’s front door, at least five agents pointed guns at Mark and arrested him in front of his wife and seven young children, who were terrified that their husband and father would be shot dead before their eyes.”
The FBI issued a statement claiming that “the number of personnel and vehicles widely reported as being on scene Friday is an overstatement, and the tactics used by FBI personnel were professional, in line with standard practices, and intended to ensure the safety of everyone present in and outside the residence.”
Brian Middleton, a representative of the Houck family, responded to the statement, telling the Catholic News Agency, “They’re turning this into a technical conversation about the representation of a woman who on Friday morning was awakened by a bunch of FBI agents armed with automatic weapons, some of them with body armor … pointing automatic weapons at her and her husband when they arrived in front of their children…If they’re not going to tell us the number, what they’re trying to do is make it look as if the Houcks aren’t telling the truth,” he said. “This isn’t a math contest. The issue is excessive force for the crime of maybe pushing another person.”
The man fell down during the altercation but was not seriously hurt, Middleton said, requiring only “a Band-Aid on his finger.”
The public responded with fury to the arrest, which is particularly egregious in light of the government’s lax handling of dozens of far more serious altercations occurring across the country earlier this summer from pro-abortion organizations that targeted churches and pregnancy care centers in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June.
In a letter sent to Senator Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Catholic League president Bill Donohue asked for an investigation into the FBI’s aggressive tactics when pursuing alleged wrongdoing by pro-life activists like Houck while showing little interest in pursuing wrongdoing by abortion-rights activists.
“Bias of this kind is politically motivated and must stop,” Donohue writes. “This kind of overreaction for a minor infraction of the law is deeply troubling, and it becomes even more troubling when paired with the under-reaction by the Department of Justice when the pro-life side is targeted…I implore you to get to the bottom of this duplicity.”
Donohue’s letter included details he sent to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland in June 2022 containing specifics about a rash of vandalism against Catholic churches, fire bombings of crisis pregnancy centers, Masses being interrupted, illegal protests outside the homes of Catholic Supreme Court Justices, and an attempted murder of one of the Catholic Justices.
“Not only did I not receive a response from the attorney general, but there have also been no news stories on SWAT teams crashing the homes of abortion-rights terrorists. Yet there have been many instances of violence that make ‘shoving’ someone look like child’s play.”
Houck is scheduled to appear in federal court in Philadelphia today for a 1:30 p.m. (Eastern) arraignment and will do so with his Thomas More Society attorneys by his side.
Please keep this courageous family in your prayers, and click here if you’d like to contribute funds to help them through this difficult time.
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