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US supreme court rules in favor of January 6 rioters – Times of India

WorldUS supreme court rules in favor of January 6 rioters - Times of India



The US supreme court ruled on Friday that prosecutors overreached when charging January 6 rioters with obstruction for attempting to hinder the certification of the 2020 presidential election. The decision, which could lead to the reversal of numerous convictions, was made in the case of Joseph Fischer, a former police officer and Trump supporter who entered the Capitol alongside hundreds of others on January 6, 2021.
Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, stated that the prosecutors’ interpretation of the law would “criminalize a broad swath of prosaic conduct, exposing activists and lobbyist(s) to decades in prison.” He emphasized that the government “must establish that the defendant impaired the availability or integrity for use in an official proceeding of records, documents, objects, or other things used in an official proceeding, or attempted to do so.”
The case was decided with a 6-3 majority, with Ketanji Brown Jackson siding with the court’s conservatives. The dissent was authored by Amy Coney Barrett, a Trump appointee, and was supported by liberal judges Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. The case will now return to a lower court to determine if Fischer’s indictment can be upheld under the more restrictive interpretation of “obstruction.”
According to the department of justice, 52 rioters have been convicted and sentenced on obstruction charges, with 27 currently serving time in prison. Attorney General Merrick Garland stated, “The vast majority of the more than 1,400 defendants charged for their illegal actions on January 6 will not be affected by this decision.”
The case centered on the interpretation of the word “otherwise” in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which was passed following the destruction of documents in the 2001 Enron scandal. The majority argued that the word “otherwise” gives prosecutors too much discretion, allowing them to pursue charges that go beyond the original intent of Congress. In her dissent, Barrett maintained that the joint session of Congress on January 6 was undeniably an official proceeding, and accused the majority of performing “textual backflips to find some way — any way” to limit the scope of the relevant subsection.
This case also has potential implications for Donald Trump, who faces four felony charges brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith related to his alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Trump is charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding, and conspiracy to deny Americans the right to vote and have their votes counted. However, this case is currently on hold pending the supreme court’s ruling on Trump’s claims of immunity from criminal prosecution, which is expected to be delivered on Monday.





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