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FBI Use of Force in Pro-Life Arrest ‘Shocking’ and ‘Unnecessary’: Heritage Foundation Senior Legal Fellow

A senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation thinktank, Hans von Spakovsky, believes the arrest of pro-life activist Mark Houck by armed agents, based on the facts of the case, did not warrant that level of force by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), saying they went “way overboard.”

Von Spakovsky said U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has “weaponized” the DOJ to go after political opponents, and FBI leadership should not have gone along with it.

“This is a use of law enforcement in a way that it should not be used. And frankly, it’s shocking, and should scare a lot of Americans,” von Spakovsky said during a Sept. 28 interview with NTD Capitol Report. The arrest of Houck using an armed FBI team was, an “unnecessary use of force, and the entire prosecution and indictment of him seem way overboard.”

The Epoch Times reached out to the DOJ for comment.

Houck, co-founder and president of The King’s Men apostolate, is an author, lecturer, radio host, and activist who often went to an abortion clinic to speak and pray peacefully. He pleaded not guilty on Sept. 27 to federal charges after he was arrested by FBI agents in an early morning raid at his home, last week.

Von Spakovsky questioned why the DOJ picked up Houck’s case after it was dropped by his district attorney last year.

“I think this is not a real case,” said von Spakovsky. “The district attorney in Philadelphia refused to file any criminal charges. The civil lawsuit filed by this escort was thrown out of court and yet now a year later, all of a sudden, the Justice Department jumps in and shows up at Mr. Houck’s door with guns drawn and two dozen FBI agents.”

DOJ prosecutors accused Houck of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act in an incident in Philadelphia last October. A spokesperson for Houck, however, disputed those allegations and noted that the case was thrown out at the local level.

According to a DOJ press statement, Houck was arrested based on court documents that “allege, Mark Houck, 48, of Kintnersville, Pennsylvania, twice assaulted a man who was a volunteer reproductive health clinic escort.”

Houck’s wife said that over two dozen agents were sent to their home and some pointed guns at her husband and her. The FBI disputed some claims and says they used “standard practice” when arresting Houck.

“There are inaccurate claims being made regarding the arrest of Mark Houck. No SWAT Team or SWAT operators were involved,” the FBI Philadelphia office told The Epoch Times on Sept. 26.

Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate are demanding answers from Garland about Houck’s case.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) speaks during a Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Spending Oversight on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Aug. 3, 2022. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“Lastly, we’ve obtained photos of the aftermath of the FBI agents’ raid on the Houck home … The photograph shows an agent with a ballistic shield and an assault rifle. Based on allegations, other FBI agents had a battering ram and ballistic shields. The photo and the allegations received by the committee appear to contradict the FBI’s statement that they employed ‘standard practices’ against Mr. Houck,” wrote the Senators.

The Senators want to know why Houck was not allowed to self-report for his “arrest and arraignment,” and whether there was political consideration involved.

Von Spakovsky said that when Republicans take back the majority in the House or Senate, they need to conduct broad oversight of the DOJ, in order to shed light on the many past cases including the Russia hoax, the arrest of General Michael Flynn, targeting of parents, and now this pro-life case.

“I think it requires intense oversight and, frankly, looking at perhaps reforms and legislative changes of the inside of the FBI,” said von Spakovsky.

Houck faces the possibility of 11 years in prison if convicted.

Jack Phillips contributed to this report.

Masooma Haq


Masooma Haq began reporting for The Epoch Times from Pakistan in 2008. She currently covers a variety of topics including U.S. government, culture, and entertainment.

Steve Lance


Steve Lance is the host of Capitol Report, a political news show based in Washington aimed at providing a direct channel to the voices and people who shape policy in America. Capitol Report features all of the political news of the day with expert interviews and analysis.

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