Hagerty to Introduce Bill to Require DOJ to Prioritize Stopping Violent Crime and Fentanyl Trafficking Over Abusing the FACE Act to Prosecute Nonviolent Pro-Life Advocates

November 3, 2022

Introduction comes as DOJ focuses on arrests and criminal charges against more than 20 nonviolent pro-life advocates for long-past conduct, despite soaring violent crime and deadly drug overdoses

RALEIGH, NC—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, along with Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Steve Daines (R-MT), and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), today announced plans to introduce the Arrest Murderers Not Ministers Act, a bill that requires the Department of Justice (DOJ) to redirect Fiscal Year 2023 law enforcement resources from politically driven prosecutions of nonviolent pro-life advocates under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act to instead prosecute offenders who have committed violent crimes, drug trafficking crimes, including those involving fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, or illegal-immigration-related crimes.

Despite soaring violent crime and record-breaking deadly drug overdoses and illegal immigration, in the last two months, the DOJ has devoted substantial law enforcement resources to abusing the FACE Act—a federal law prohibiting using force or threats of force to injure or intimidate someone from accessing reproductive health services or a place of worship—as a pretext to arrest and pursue dubious criminal charges against more than 20 nonviolent pro-life advocates for long-past conduct
This abuse and waste of federal law enforcement resources to gin up criminal charges regarding matters customarily and properly handled by local law enforcement in order to advance a political agenda is particularly egregious in light of the current wave of violent crimedrug-overdose deaths, and illegal immigration, which deserve maximum DOJ resources.
“Instead of stopping soaring violent crime, deadly drug trafficking, and illegal immigration, the Biden DOJ is focused on stretching federal law to arrest political opponents,” said Senator Hagerty. “This desperate, eleventh-hour attempt by the Biden Administration to score political points and distract from its two years of failures is not only an abuse of law enforcement power, but is endangering American communities by siphoning limited resources away from actual law enforcement. This legislation will ensure that law enforcement resources are used to address the real crises Americans are facing—not the manufactured crises of the Biden Administration.”

“The Biden Justice Department allowed left-wing activists to illegally threaten Supreme Court Justices at their private homes and even vandalize pro-life pregnancy centers,” said Senator Blackburn. “Yet now, the administration is abusing its power to arrest peaceful pro-life Americans for political purposes. Arresting those that stand for life, while letting pro-abortion activists off the hook, is a double standard of justice and will not be tolerated. I thank Senator Hagerty for introducing this bill to protect those being targeted by the Biden administration.”

“Joe Biden and Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice continues to abuse its power by targeting peaceful, pro-life advocates,” said Senator Cramer. “The so-called ‘reproductive rights task force’ distorts existing law to push their left-wing, radical views while violent crime rages across the nation. The Arrest Murderers Not Ministers Act directs the DOJ to use their resources to charge people who have committed violent crimes and actually broken the law.” 

“The Biden administration has weaponized the Department of Justice to persecute the Democrats’ political enemies,” said Senator Daines. “While Biden’s DOJ is soft on violent crime and has failed to bring any charges against criminals who have firebombed pregnancy centers, it abuses its power to go after nonviolent pro-Life activists and demonstrators. It’s outrageous, it’s dangerous, and it has to change.”

“Pro-life supporters peacefully advocating for the lives of the unborn are not criminals,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Crime is at an all-time high, yet DOJ uses its limited resources to arrest pro-life advocates. Our bill gives more tools to law enforcement to arrest real criminals who are flooding our streets with fentanyl and murdering innocent people.”


In June 2022, DOJ established a “Reproductive Rights Task Force” staffed by DOJ employees to pursue pro-abortion-related law enforcement

More than 18 months after peacefully praying and singing hymns outside the door of an abortion clinic in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, 11 pro-life advocates were federally indicted under the FACE Act on October 5, 2022, including a 55-year-old father of 11 who was arrested at his home by a team of FBI agents in front of his children, with some facing up to 11 years in prison according to DOJ.

On September 23, 2022, Mark Houck, the leader of a Catholic ministry in Pennsylvania and father of seven, was arrested at his home by roughly 20 heavily armed FBI agents with guns drawn and charged with violating the FACE Act for pushing away a pro-abortion activist who was harassing his 12-year-old son—nearly a year after this occurred and despite that Philadelphia prosecutors declined to bring charges given the facts.

The Arrest Murderers Not Ministers Act requires DOJ to use FY23 law enforcement resources that would have been spent prosecuting nonviolent persons under the FACE Act to instead prosecute offenders who:

(1) have committed violent crimes;
(2) are felons who illegally possess firearms;
(3) have committed drug trafficking crimes, including crimes involving fentanyl and other synthetic opioids; or

(4) are illegal aliens who have committed crimes in the United States.

Prosecutions under the FACE Act for violence or property damage are still permitted.

The text of this legislation is available here.