Republican lawmakers are sounding the alarm after a senior Justice Department official labeled a prominent religious liberty organization, Alliance Defending Freedom, as a “hate group.”
“Alliance Defending Freedom is one of the nation’s foremost champions of religious liberty and the constitutional rights of all Americans,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said in a statement provided to The Daily Signal. “It’s appalling that a Department of Justice staffer would consider this mission hateful. I’m proud to stand with ADF in its fight for religious liberty.”
“Attorney General Merrick Garland must ensure that the DOJ faithfully executes justice for all, and he should investigate this incident,” Cruz, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, added.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called the Justice Department official’s comment “outrageous” and slammed the agency’s credibility.
“A DOJ lawyer slandering honest, law-abiding Americans as members of a ‘hate group’ simply because of their Christian faith is outrageous,” Rubio told The Daily Signal in a prepared statement.
“Attorney General Garland promised to uphold the rule of law without fear or favor,” Rubio said, adding: “The credibility of his department continues to shatter.”
Eric P. Bruskin, assistant director of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, made the derogatory comment about Alliance Defending Freedom in response to a LinkedIn post by Jason Weida, formerly an assistant U.S. attorney in Massachusetts. According to The Daily Signal, Weida is now a Florida state health official.
Weida recently shared the following LinkedIn post post:
[I’m] [h]It is rumored that Matt Sharp will be speaking with you at Alliance Defending Freedom about the work we’re doing in Florida to protect kids from experimental medical interventions and to defend parental rights, all thanks to the leadership of Governor [Ron] DeSantis.
In response, the Justice Department’s Bruskin wrote:
Jason, this conference is for a hate group. You’re speaking at a conference for a hate group. These are your beliefs? If so, then it’s time we end our professional association.
Alliance Defending Freedom (or ADF) describes itself as “the world’s largest legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, the sanctity of life, parental rights, and God’s design for marriage and family.”
Bruskin worked for the Justice Department 13 years. He started as a trial attorney in 2009, then became a senior trial lawyer in 2016 and 2020, and was most recently an assistant director in 2020. LinkedIn page
Bruskin spent five months working for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts before joining the Justice Department. This was between May and September 2009. .
Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., shared similar concerns to those of Rubio and Cruz, and reupped his call for Garland’s impeachment.
“This is yet another indication that senior leadership at the DOJ has abdicated any sense of decency and impartiality,” Perry, who chairs the House’s Freedom Caucus, told The Daily Signal in a written statement, adding:
The weaponization and abuse of federal power has become so widespread that top officials are free to fire on well-respected advocacy organizations dedicated to protecting the religious freedom, free speech, and religious freedom rights of all Americans.
This kind of blatant and abusive targeting against civically engaged conservatives explains why I have called to impeach Attorney General Garland.
Lauren Fine, a spokeswoman for House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said Bruskin’s comment is part of a larger pattern within the Biden administration to target Americans who hold different opinions or values.
Fine said in a statement to The Daily Signal that:
Alliance for Defending Freedom protects the First Amendment rights and religious freedoms of all Americans. It is a disgrace that someone working for our Justice Department would call them a hate organisation.
This follows a troubling pattern in the Biden Administration of calling those they disagree on terrorists or hate groups. We should not tolerate it.
“The federal government exists to serve its citizens, not attack them for their political beliefs,” Fine added.
The Daily Signal sought comment from the Justice Department for a response to the Republicans lawmakers’ reaction but did not receive one by publication time.
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