Conservative Activists Face 11 Years In Prison For Praying

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 18: Members of The Christian Defense Coalition hold a small anti-abortion demonstration in front of the White House on January 18, 2024 in Washington, DC. The annual anti-abortion demonstration March for Life will take place in Washington, DC, tomorrow, January 19. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
Samuel Corum/Getty Images

In the first week of October 2022, 100 days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Joe Biden held a highly publicized meeting with his so-called “reproductive rights task force” in the state dining room of the White House. At the meeting, Biden announced a plan to subvert the Supreme Court’s ruling, to the extent that he could. He instructed Congress to pass legislation that would prevent any state from banning abortion. He also announced millions of dollars in federal funds to promote abortion, and threatened legal consequences for any university that tried to punish a student for killing her child. 

What Joe Biden didn’t announce is that, as he spoke, his enforcers in the DOJ were planning a “shock and awe” style raid designed to intimidate and punish pro-life activists. Just hours after the meeting of Joe Biden’s “task force,” at 7:00 a.m. on October 5, a team of heavily armed FBI agents arrived at the Centerville, Tennessee, home of Paul Vaughn. One of the agents apparently delighted in telling one of Vaughn’s children, who was waiting for him to drive them to school, that their father was going to jail. And indeed, agents arrested Paul Vaughn in front of his children and hauled him away as they refused to answer any of his wife’s questions. Here’s some of the footage she recorded from that morning:

What was Paul Vaughn’s crime? As I mentioned on the show yesterday, a full year and a half before that FBI raid — in March of 2021 — Paul Vaughn participated in a protest at an abortion facility in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, along with several other pro-life activists. These activists sang and prayed in a hallway outside of the facility. Local police arrived, told these activists to leave, and they refused. So a handful of them were arrested for misdemeanor trespassing.

To add some dark irony to the situation, one of the protesters was booked for “contributing to the delinquency of a minor,” because the protester brought a child to the demonstration. So, taking your kid to pray and sing at an abortion facility is “contributing to their delinquency.” But killing your kid at the abortion facility is great, apparently. And this is in Tennessee, a state that’s controlled for the most part by the Republican Party.

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Interestingly enough, Paul Vaughn himself wasn’t arrested by local police that day, because he was outside, functioning mainly as a liaison between the police and the demonstrators. They didn’t see any reason to arrest him because he wasn’t even trespassing in the hallway. And really, the whole situation was obviously overblown anyway. At a press conference following the arrests, a reporter asked the police spokesman why they were bothering to clog the court system with trivial trespassing cases like this. It wasn’t exactly the crime of the century, and everyone knew it. In case you need a reminder, here’s what it looked like:

Watching these people praying and singing, the Biden administration saw an opportunity. They decided to make an example out of Paul Vaughn and everyone else who protested at that abortion facility. In all, the DOJ arrested 11 people for participating in the demonstration, including an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor named Eva Edl. They charged these protesters with violations of the federal “Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act,” (or FACE Act), which carries penalties of up to a decade in prison.

There was never any way to justify this charging decision, even using the standards of Joe Biden’s attorney general, Merrick Garland. Prior to the arrests, Garland stated under oath in the Senate, “We prosecute without respect to ideology, but we do focus on the most violent acts, the most dangerous actors and the cases most likely to lead to danger to most Americans.”

No part of that statement was true, as it turns out. Not only does the DOJ prosecute explicitly on the basis of ideology, but they’re also focusing on the least violent and dangerous acts imaginable — namely sitting and praying in front of abortion facilities. And their strategy appears to be working. 

Yesterday, a federal jury convicted six pro-life activists, including Paul Vaughn, of FACE Act violations, as well as engaging in a “conspiracy against rights”. The jury apparently agreed with the DOJ that Paul Vaughn and another demonstrator, simply by negotiating with police, were really engaging in a “delaying tactic.” And therefore, they’re just as guilty as the demonstrators in the hallway. And now all of these defendants are facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, and up to a decade in prison.

Unfortunately, in the federal system, cameras aren’t allowed in the courtroom. So we can’t show you video footage of what the prosecutors said. But thanks to reporter Leif Le Mahieu from The Daily Wire, we do know that in closing arguments the prosecutor stated these demonstrators were not in fact peaceful protesters simply by virtue of the fact that they committed a crime. As The Daily Wire observed: “During her final statements to the jury, Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Klopf likened the actions of the six pro-lifers to that of a group of people attempting to convince someone not to vote, and blocking the entrance of a polling location. She said that, ‘something is not peaceful if laws are broken.'”

That’s actually what Joe Biden’s assistant U.S. attorney said. Her argument is that all crimes are inherently violent simply by virtue of the fact that they involve breaking the law.


Whatever we think of that reasoning, it’s obviously insanely inconsistent with Joe Biden’s own stated goal to release “nonviolent offenders” from jail. That’s why he pardoned all of those marijuana offenders, supposedly. It’s also why the DOJ paid out a massive settlement to those BLM rioters who occupied Lafayette Square near the White House, even though some of them threw frozen water bottles and rocks at police officers. And it’s why the DOJ dropped more than a third of the criminal cases against BLM rioters who sieged a courthouse in Portland. We’re told all of these offenses were nonviolent and therefore no charges should be brought. Apparently it’s only when you pray silently outside an abortion facility that you go to prison. That’s the only nonviolent offense that cannot stand.

So there’s no denying this argument from Joe Biden’s DOJ is hypocritical. But that’s not the point, really. Everyone knows that. The point is that under the U.S. Constitution, the government isn’t allowed to be hypocritical when it comes to enforcing the law. We have something called the Equal Protection Clause. We have Due Process. And if that means anything, it’s that the government can’t selectively enforce laws, depending on which ideology it wants to punish. That’s the problem here. 

Yes, the people who gathered inside that hallway did violate the letter of the FACE Act. They apparently convinced someone not to kill their baby that day, and go home instead, and as the law is written, that’s a crime. These peaceful activists did violate federal law.

That law, however, happens to be atrocious and unconstitutional for many reasons, one of which is that the law is being unevenly enforced to an extreme degree. The White House isn’t even attempting to hide this. Joe Biden announced his pardon of nonviolent marijuana users literally a day after the FBI raised Paul Vaughn’s home, just to underscore the message he’s sending. They are absolving one class of nonviolent criminals while hunting down another class of nonviolent criminals like they’re an Al Qaeda cell.

But they’re not terrorists, or even close to it. These pro-lifers — a collection of elderly retirees and parents with young children — were engaged in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience. Sending these demonstrators to prison for 11 years for that civil disobedience — which harmed no one and caused no damage to property — is both cruel and clearly unjust.

Maybe it could be explained on some theoretical level if the administration had established a precedent of bringing the hammer down on everyone who violates the law for the sake of making a political point, but that is obviously not the case here. BLM rioters who torched police stations have gotten a fraction of the time. People who harassed Supreme Court justices at their homes haven’t even been arrested, to my knowledge. The administration is punishing political disobedience depending on the politics of the people involved.

It’s hard to imagine a more Soviet system of “justice.” But it’s the approach that the Biden administration is now committed to. They aren’t just going after these pro-life demonstrations in Tennessee. They tried to do the same thing to Mark Houck, who was arrested in September of 2022 for an incident that occurred a year earlier, in October of 2021. Houck’s alleged crime, as I’ve discussed previously, was shoving a volunteer at an abortion facility, after the guy started harassing Houck’s 12-year-old son. This was such an absurd non-crime that local police didn’t pursue any charges, similar to the case of Paul Vaughn. But the DOJ decided to revive the case, around the same time that Joe Biden needed to convince his base that he’s going to wage a domestic war against pro-lifers.

Notice the pattern here. An incident happens involving pro-lifers. Nobody thinks its a big deal. Local law enforcement isn’t that worried about it. Nobody is harmed. Everyone moves on. Then the federal government comes back around months or years later and decides to literally make a federal case out of it.

This is the very essence of a political witch hunt.

There are many more cases like these. For example, there’s the case of five pro-life activists who were convicted by a Washington, D.C., jury last year for FACE Act violations. One of the activists is a woman named Lauren Handy. Handy began to attract the DOJ’s attention when she found the bodies of five preemie-sized aborted babies in a box outside an abortion facility in the D.C. neighborhood of Foggy Bottom. According to The Daily Signal, the box “also contained over a hundred pulverized remains of first-trimester babies.”

One of the doctors at that clinic, Live Action had previously reported, admitted on a hidden camera that he would allow babies to die if they were accidentally delivered during abortions:

So Lauren Handy and several others decided to protest this butchery. They looked into this abortion facility. And of course, D.C. police and the DOJ took the side of the people who are murdering babies for profit. Again, they pursued a 10-year sentence for activists engaging in peaceful protest.

To give you an idea of how incomprehensible all of this is, they don’t even treat pro-life activists this badly in one of the most godless places on the planet, the United Kingdom. Around a year ago, police in Birmingham arrested a woman for praying silently outside of an abortion clinic. But the case was so absurd and so wildly unpopular that within a few months, they apologized to her and dropped the charges. Even in Britain, this was too far.

But in this country, conservatives are allowing this purge of pro-lifers to take place, with barely any pushback. You’ll hear more from conservatives about Taylor Swift than you will about this ideologically driven, unconstitutional attack on civil liberties in this country. What this means is that if these tyrants get another four years in office, there is no doubt that they will ramp up their political persecution. There will be absolutely no one to stop them. Should that come to pass — especially if you care about things like human life and stopping child sacrifices — then before long, there’s a very good chance they’ll be knocking on your front door as well.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Conservative Activists Face 11 Years In Prison For Praying