Catholic Vote and Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday, demanding they comply with records requests related to agency actions targeting Catholics.
In February, a now-retracted leaked memo from the FBI Richmond Field Office showed the bureau was targeting Catholics, and had used information from the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center to guide the crafting of the memo. As Breitbart News reported, the memo showed the Richmond office had found that violent extremists’ “interest” in “radical-traditionalist Catholic” ideology was growing and that it therefore presented an opportunity for the FBI to engage with certain churches in an attempt to goad the churches’ leadership into serving as FBI “tripwires,” who would operate like unofficial informants to the FBI.
Catholic Vote sent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to both the FBI and DOJ on March 8, 2023 seeking access to records pertaining to Catholics and other topics related to the leaked memo.
“Even though FOIA norms require agencies to respond within 20 business days, with an additional ten for ‘unusual circumstances,’ over a month has passed, and to date ,the FBI and DOJ have failed to produce the requested records or even communicate whether they plan to comply with the requests,” Catholic Vote said in a press release.
The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, asks the court to order the agencies to conduct a search for and produce any non-exempt records related to their FOIA request.
“Our weaponized and corrupt government agencies have demonstrated a pattern of contempt for justice and the rule of law by prioritizing partisan ideology and agendas over the protection of the American people – in particular those with whom they disagree politically,” Catholic Vote President Brian Burch said in a statement. “We are demanding transparency from our government and are determined to uncover just how high up the anti-Catholic bigotry goes.”
“In a brazen attack on the First Amendment and Christians, the Biden FBI planned to treat Catholics as potential terrorists and spy on them in their churches,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “And now, as our new FOIA lawsuit shows, the FBI and Justice Departments are trying to cover their tracks by hiding documents about this growing scandal.”
The case is Catholic Vote Civic Action and Judicial Watch Inc. v. Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Department of Justice, No. 1:23-cv-1166 in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.