Defending the Next Target of DOJ’s Weaponization: A Pro-Life Priest

(Cleveland, Ohio) – The weaponization of Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) continues.  This time, government lawyers have filed a civil lawsuit under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) against several pro-lifers arising out of two peaceful rescues held at abortion centers in northern Ohio in June 2021.

One of the targets of this latest DOJ attack is Fr. Fidelis (Christopher Moscinski), a Catholic priest from New York.  AFLC represents Fr. Fidelis in this lawsuit.

FACE, which also carries criminal penalties for the same course of conduct, has been used by Biden’s DOJ to send pro-lifers, including elderly pro-lifers, to federal prison for many years.  Meanwhile, Biden’s DOJ turns a blind eye to the actual violence committed by left-wing groups like Black Lives Matter and Antifa, and the DOJ has also turned a blind eye to the violence committed by pro-abortion groups against pro-lifers and crisis pregnancy centers.

In order to violate FACE, whether civilly or criminally as the elements are exactly the same, a person must, “by force or threat of force or by physical obstruction, intentionally injure, intimidate or interfere with” someone seeking an abortion.

The statute expressly defines the term “interfere with” to mean “to restrict a person’s freedom of movement.”  It defines “intimidate” to mean “to place a person in reasonable apprehension of bodily harm.”  And “physical obstruction” means to “render[] impassable ingress to or egress from” an abortion facility “or rendering passage to or from such a facility. . . unreasonably difficult or hazardous.”

Fr. Fidelis’s simple trespass did none of this, but the DOJ doesn’t care.  It knows that the process itself is punishment.  At some point, the courts need to sanction the DOJ for its lawlessness.  We are working on ways of pursuing this.

In this latest case, Fr. Fidelis was already prosecuted by a local prosecutor and found guilty of a simple trespass for his actions, which amounted to peacefully entering the abortion center and offering red roses to women who were about to abort their unborn babies (a “Red Rose Rescue”).  Fr. Fidelis did not use any force or threat of force nor did he engage in any physical obstruction whatsoever.  But the DOJ doesn’t care about facts—it is driven by hard-left ideology.

Unfortunately, as noted, this is yet another example of the DOJ weaponizing its law enforcement efforts to target for draconian treatment and the selective enforcement of federal law individuals and organizations that oppose abortion.

Through this civil action, Biden’s DOJ seeks to convert a peaceful, local trespass case into a violation of federal law, which carries harsh civil and criminal penalties.  Our Constitutions forbids this overreach by the federal government.

It is axiomatic that the United States Constitution grants the federal government limited and enumerated powers.  Accordingly, the federal government does not possess general police powers.  Those powers were expressly reserved for local and state governments.  Here, the federal government seeks to expand its powers and encroach upon local state interests in its relentless pursuit of pro-lifers.

As stated by the U.S. Supreme Court:

Federalism . . . protects the liberty of all persons within a State by ensuring that laws enacted in excess of delegated governmental power cannot direct or control their actions. . . .  By denying any one government complete jurisdiction over all the concerns of public life, federalism protects the liberty of the individual from arbitrary power.  When government acts in excess of its lawful powers, that liberty is at stake.

Here, “liberty is at stake” by the federal government’s efforts to nationalize (and thus federalize) a local issue.  We will be asking the federal court to promptly dismiss this lawless lawsuit.