Several Republican lawmakers plan to grill the Attorney General about the Department of Justice’s new lenient charging strategy and the Bureau of Prisons’ stance toward transgender inmates.
According to senate aides, Attorney General Merrick Garland’s first appearance before the 118th Congress will have been on Wednesday, where he will have been questioned by Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee about the FBI memo that allegedly targeted “radical traditionalist” Catholic ideology, as well as the agency’s practice of FACE Act prosecutions of pro-life activists.
Senate Republicans may have asked Garland about the Bureau of Prisons’ new policy on transgender detainees, which allows male inmates to be placed with female inmates, and the Justice Department’s new charging practices, which Republicans think are lenient.
On January 23rd, 2023, the FBI’s Richmond, Virginia, Field Office “identifies ‘radical-traditionalist Catholic[s]’ as potential ‘racially or racially driven violent extremists,’” according to a leaked internal memo. Republican lawmakers from both chambers have been pressuring FBI Director Christopher Wray to answer for the memo.
After the memo was leaked, the FBI notified the media that they immediately began taking steps to delete it from FBI systems and investigate its credibility.
Even though the memo was retracted, lawmakers nonetheless worried about the “poor rate of investigations and action” to threats on pregnancy information centers and religious institutions since Roe v. Wade was overruled last summer.
Legislators have criticized the FBI for using “biased data” from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The SPLC’s classification of organizations as “hate groups” was mentioned in the memo “despite its overt political bias and previous resistance from Congress,” the congressmen said.
In light of the Supreme Court’s decision to change the outcome of Roe v. Wade, the Department of Justice and the FBI have come under intense scrutiny from Republicans and conservative activists who claim the bureaus aren’t dealing fairly because of the lack of arrests made in the wake of dozens of attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers. In contrast, over 30 pro-life protestors have been charged by the DOJ in the past year.
Justice Department officials have filed eight new Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act indictments against pro-choice protesters over an incident outside a Michigan abortion clinic in 2020.
Republicans on the committee have repeatedly asked Garland to come back and testify on these and other issues, but his last appearance was in 2021.
Despite the National School Boards Association’s apology for the letter that prompted the memo, he was grilled about it during the hearing. The document addressed a government response to violence and intimidation of school board leaders.
The former ranking member of the committee, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, said the Department of Justice memorandum had a “poisonous, chilling effect” on speech because it dealt with criticism of school board members.
Garland justified the memo by saying it was a response to threats of violence and other criminal behavior.