Certain Jan. 6 Defendants Released As Supreme Court Decide Validity Of Charges

A number of defendants involved in the Jan. 6 Capitol protests have been ordered to have an early release from prison due to an upcoming appeal, as the Supreme Court is preparing to hear cases next week questioning the validity of charges against them.

Attorneys for three of the defendants involved in the Capitol protests are set to present arguments before the Supreme Court that the crime of obstructing an “official proceeding” does not apply to their clients and actually only applies to cases in which individuals destroy evidence related to government probes.

Due to the legal precedent regarding obstruction of “official proceedings,” federal prosecutors found a way to charge many Jan. 6 defendants and lock them away for periods of time that could potentially exceed the amount of time they might face for any legitimate punishment.

But the law about obstruction of official proceedings was originally created by Congress to make it illegal to shred or destroy documents when under federal investigation, as some businesses have been known to do. Obviously, protesting at the Capitol is not the same as a giant corporation shredding documents while under federal investigation.

Nevertheless, a majority of federal judges involved in prosecuting people for their involvement in Jan. 6 Capitol protests have upheld that interpretation of the law — except for Judge Carl Nichols, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump.

While some defendants are now allowed temporary freedom, if the Supreme Court sides with the prevailing interpretation of the law by unfavorable judges, they could be returned to prison.

Of the 1,350 Jan. 6 defendants, about 100 of them are involved with cases of so-called “obstruction.”

The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in the case next Tuesday, with a ruling expected to be issued by the end of its term in either late June or early July. Although a successful appeal would not affect the majority of those involved in the Jan. 6 Capitol protests due to most charges involving trespassing or other misdemeanors, it would be a groundbreaking victory for the defendants, who have become political poster children for the injustices of government overreach and abuse of authority.

Such a win would be a victory for the MAGA movement as well and could potentially energize the base as the nation heads into the 2024 presidential election.