SCOTUS considering whether obstruction law can be used to prosecute J6 defendants

 April 17, 2024

Many Democrats are panicking in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court taking a deeper look at some of the charges faced by Jan. 6 defendants. 

According to NBC News, one of those charges is an obstruction-related charge, which if shot down by the high court, could also affect former President Donald Trump as he faces a similar charge.

On Tuesday, SCOTUS "raised concerns" over the Justice Department's use of an obstruction statute used to charge J6 defendants.

The high court is reviewing the matter based on an appeal filed by a J6 defendant.

What's going on?

NBC News explained how the Supreme Court got involved:

The justices heard an appeal brought by defendant Joseph Fischer, a former police officer who is seeking to dismiss a charge accusing him of obstructing an official proceeding, specifically the certification by Congress of Joe Biden’s election victory, which was disrupted by a mob of Trump supporters.

The question is whether or not the law can be applied in cases concerning some of the J6 defendants. It was noted that the Supreme Court has raised concerns in the past over prosecutors who "assert broad applications of criminal provisions."

Legal scholar Jonathan Turley said Fischer's case could "fundamentally change many cases of January 6th defendants," adding that it could also affect Trump's case.

Many of the high court's conservative justices questioned whether or not the obstruction law applies to peaceful protesters, of which there were many at the J6 Capitol protest.

"Would a sit-in that disrupts a trial or access to a federal courthouse qualify?" Justice Neil Gorsuch asked. "Would a heckler in today's audience qualify, or at the State of the Union address? Would pulling a fire alarm before a vote qualify for 20 years in federal prison?"

Drawing boundaries

Conservative Justice Samuel Alito raised similar questions, making sure to acknowledge the seriousness of the J6 Capitol protests, but also noting that lines have to be drawn for where the laws apply.

"I think it's in a fundamentally different posture than if they had stormed into this courtroom, overrun the Supreme Court Police, required the justices and other participants to flee for their safety," Alito said.

He added, "What happened on Jan. 6 was very, very serious, and I'm not equating this with that," Alito responded. "But we need to find out what are the outer reaches of this statute under your interpretation."

Only time will tell if the high court shoots down the DOJ's attempt to prosecute under that particular law.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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