The Justice Department official who investigates attacks on reproductive health care facilities has been a staunch critic of pro-life crisis pregnancy centers, dozens of which have been vandalized by abortion supporters over the past month.
Civil rights division chief Kristen Clarke criticized the centers following a Supreme Court decision issued in their favor in 2018. Clarke said the centers, which counsel pregnant women on alternatives to abortion, were "harmful" and "predatory" against women of color. She also referred to them with the hashtag, "ExposeFakeClinics."
Clarke’s stance on the centers offers a potential explanation for the Justice Department’s refusal to investigate a string of attacks on pro-life centers since the May 2 leak of a draft Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) asked Attorney General Merrick Garland last week to investigate the incidents as acts of domestic terrorism. Garland has yet to open an investigation, even though he said on Sept. 6 he would investigate crimes against "reproductive health center[s]" under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE Act).
Clarke oversees investigations of potential FACE Act violations. She charged nine people under the statute in March for blocking the entrance to a Washington, D.C., abortion provider.
The attacks on crisis pregnancy centers, churches, and other pro-life organizations have run rampant since the leak of the Roe v. Wade draft opinion last month. Twenty-four crisis centers have been vandalized or set on fire since the leak, according to a group that tracks the incidents. In the latest assaults, a facility in Buffalo was firebombed on June 7. A center in Gresham, Ore., was hit with an "incendiary device" over the weekend.
The attacks are part of a broad intimidation campaign by left-wing activists upset that Roe may be overturned. Activists have protested outside the homes of conservative justices. A radical left-wing group hatched plans to shut down the Supreme Court using tactics that "stretch the bounds of constitutionally protected speech." One abortion supporter attempted to assassinate Justice Brett Kavanaugh last week.
Clarke showed her opposition to crisis pregnancy centers following a Supreme Court ruling in June 2018 that struck down a California requirement that the centers inform patients about state abortion services.
"The anti-choice movement will stop at nothing," wrote Clarke, using left-wing activist jargon to refer to pro-life groups. She added the hashtags, "#EndTheLies" and "#ExposeFakeClinics."
Clarke also said the centers prey on women of color. She said the Supreme Court decision would have "harmful consequences for women, especially women of color who are often targeted by predatory [crisis pregnancy centers]."
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a civil rights group Clarke led at the time, alleged that crisis pregnancy centers "target some of the most vulnerable women in communities today."
Asked about Clarke’s tweets, Rubio said she should be disqualified from overseeing any eventual investigation into the crisis pregnancy center attacks.
"Kristen Clarke never should have been confirmed," Rubio told the Washington Free Beacon. "Her disdain toward the very people now under threat was predictable and it should be disqualifying. Attorney General Garland should make clear that Clarke will have no involvement in any of these cases as those move forward."
The Justice Department did not respond to requests for comment about Clarke or whether the agency is considering investigations into the attacks.
Clarke has a long history of making controversial statements about issues she now oversees as civil rights chief. She wrote in support of the movement to defund the police in 2020 but denied to Republicans during her confirmation hearing that she wanted to defund police departments. In 2019, Clarke criticized the Chicago police department for requesting access to the cell phone of Jussie Smollett, the actor found to have staged a hoax in which he falsely claimed Trump supporters attacked him because he is black and gay. Clarke has criticized conservative Supreme Court judges, many of whom are now the target of left-wing radical protesters. She claimed that Kavanaugh’s presence on the bench would be "dangerous." She called him a "man who harbors such bias, rage, fury and is so easily unhinged."