Supreme Court Skeptical of Biden Admin in Jan 6 Case with Implications for Trump

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday on whether a man involved in events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 can be prosecuted under a law that harshly punishes obstruction of an official proceeding. , expressed skepticism about the Biden Justice Department.

This landmark case could transform the roughly 350 cases involving defendants charged with similar charges under the same provisions, about 100 of whom were convicted or found guilty.

This decision will almost certainly have a significant impact on the Biden administration’s prosecution of Donald Trump, resulting in the most serious charges against him being thrown out by the courts.

On January 6, the government announced that it would be required to comply with 18 U.S.C. 1512(c)(2), a post-Enron provision for those who “fraudulently obstruct, influence, or impede…an official proceeding.” The defendant, Joseph Fisher, was indicted on six other charges. In the same way. Fisher’s lawyers argue that the charges at issue improperly relied on that provision, which clearly covered the concealment or destruction of evidence related to white-collar crimes.

The law could carry a sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

Attorney General Elizabeth Prelauger claimed on Tuesday that Fisher and others engaged in a “deliberate attempt to prevent a joint session of Congress from certifying the election results” and “obstructed Congress in its formal proceedings.”

Fisher’s attorney, Jeffrey Green, said the charges were inappropriate. “Trying to stop things like vote counting is a completely different act than actually changing or falsifying documents,” he said.

But conservative justices questioned whether the government had gone too far with this charge, expressing concern over the interpretation of the terms “obstruction” and “obstruction,” and saying the law does not apply to participation in sit-ins or other demonstrations. It has been stated that there is a possibility that it may be used to prosecute persons.

Justice Samuel Alito asked, “We need to find out what the scope of this law is under your interpretation.”

Justice Neil Gorsuch questioned, “Do sit-ins that disrupt trials and access to federal courthouses qualify?” Does a heckler in the audience today, or at the State of the Union address, qualify? Is setting off a fire alarm before voting punishable by 20 years in federal prison?”

He appeared to be referring to Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), who admitted breaking the law by setting off a fire alarm before a key House vote on federal spending in September 2023. It is said that the vote will be postponed until a vote can be taken. Rally to enact unique spending legislation.

Bowman was not charged with a federal crime and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in D.C. Superior Court.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Clarence Thomas appeared to question whether the provision was being applied unevenly, perhaps for political reasons.

“There have been a number of violent protests that have disrupted proceedings,” Thomas said. “Has the Government applied this provision to other protests in the past and has this been the Government’s position throughout the life of this Act?”

“I can’t give you an example of enforcing this rule in a situation where people violently stormed into a building to disrupt a formal proceeding,” Preloger said.

Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor appeared to defend Preloger, saying, “This is an unprecedented situation where people would violently try to stop a case.” So we don’t know what the lack of history proves. ”

In determining the § 1512(c)(2) charge that applied to the defendant, Roberts argued that prosecutors may have ignored the language of § 1512(c)(1), which clarified the provision regarding destruction of documents. he suggested. not indict the defendant. EEssentially, rather than understanding (c)(2) to be a continuation of (c)(1), prosecutors treat (c)(2) as an independent provision; violate Judicial doctrine of generality.

he, opinion The court handed down the verdict on Friday. Bissonnette which one “We said that common phrases are controlled and defined by reference to the terms that precede them.”

Mr. Kavanaugh also appeared skeptical of Mr. Preleger’s argument that general precedent does not apply.

Mr. Trump is not involved in Mr. Fisher’s case, but the bill is a central part of Jack Smith’s criminal prosecution of the former president. If the Supreme Court rules that Fisher cannot be prosecuted for obstruction of an official proceeding, Smith’s case against Trump could be significantly compromised.

The case is Fisher v. United StatesU.S. Supreme Court No. 23-5572.

Bradley Jay is Breitbart News’ Capitol Hill correspondent. Follow him on X/Twitter. @BradleyAJay.