Catholic League president Bill Donohue wrote the following letter to Inspector General Michael Horowitz asking for an investigation of a Department of Justice official who evinces an animus against religious liberty organizations:
September 8, 2022
The Honorable Michael E. Horowitz
U.S. Department of Justice
Office of the Inspector General
950 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20530
Dear Inspector General Horowitz:
I am writing to you in my role as president of the nation’s largest Catholic civil rights organization. I would respectfully request that you conduct an investigation into the religious bias as evidenced by Eric P. Bruskin, assistant director of the commercial litigation branch of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Division.
Bruskin’s decision to malign a prestigious law firm that specializes in the defense of religious liberty is troubling, especially to those of us who work in the same field.
It seems clear that he has violated DOJ strictures mandating that “employees should not make comments that can be perceived as showing prejudice based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other protected basis.” Religion has long been acknowledged as a protected class.
Bruskin recently had an exchange with a former colleague, Jason Weida, regarding a social media post that Weida made about Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), one of the nation’s most prominent defenders of religious liberty. Weida spoke favorably of an attorney at ADF, Matt Sharp, and of his own work defending parental rights in Florida. This led Bruskin to question Weida about his attendance at an ADF conference.
“Jason, this is a hate group,” Bruskin said in a LinkedIn post. “You’re speaking at a conference for a hate group. Are these the beliefs you hold? If so, then it’s time we end our professional association.”
Not only is ADF a respectable organization that has won the plaudits of many legal scholars, the term “hate group” should be reserved for terrorist groups like the Klan and Antifa. Most important, it is one thing for partisan activist entities to label ADF a “hate group,” quite another when someone in a senior DOJ position does.
I hasten to add that I am not writing on behalf of ADF. But you should know that the Catholic League has filed an amicus brief in support of an important case before the U.S. Supreme Court, 303 Creative v. Elenis; ADF is lead counsel. It concerns a Colorado web designer who is challenging a state law requiring her to violate her religious beliefs about marriage.
This needs to be said because according to people like Bruskin, this would mean that the Catholic League qualifies as a “hate group” as well. We are not about to wait until some DOJ figure like Bruskin thinks he can abuse his office by targeting us.
The animus that Bruskin harbors for religious liberty organizations puts him in violation of DOJ rules, making him unfit for service. Hopefully your probe will validate my concerns.
Thank you for your consideration.
William A. Donohue, Ph.D.
cc: Attorney General Merrick Garland; Senate Judiciary Ranking Member Chuck Grassley; ADF president Michael Farris; ADF Senior Counsel Matt Sharp; Jason Weida; Eric Bruskin