Conservative Justices Grill DOJ over Double Standard in J6 ‘Obstruction’ Case

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(Luis Cornelio, Headline USA) The conservative bloc of the Supreme Court scrutinized Tuesday the DOJ’s decision to broaden an obstruction law — widely considered inadequate — to prosecute protestors involved in the Jan. 6 protests.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett were direct in their interrogation of Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar regarding the DOJ’s utilization of a provision of the Oxley Act of 2002 in their Jan. 6 prosecutions. 

The law includes provisions concerning obstruction of official proceedings, historically applied against individuals who tampered with evidence in such cases rather than those who caused a temporary halt in the proceedings, similar to the events of Jan. 6.

The conservative justices contested the implementation of broad prosecutorial powers and raised questions about selective prosecution. In essence, their questions can be summed up to: why hasn’t this law been applied to other protestors or riots? 

“There have been many violent protests that have interfered with proceedings. Has the government applied this provision to other protests?” Thomas queried. 

“Would a sit-in that disrupts a trial or access to a federal courthouse qualify?” Gorsuch inquired of Prelogar, citing past instances resembling obstruction of official proceedings. 

“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, if for 20 years in federal prison?” he added. 

In response to Gorsuch, Prelogar vaguely argued that such instances could not amount to crimes under the Oxley Act because the federal government couldn’t demonstrate “obstruction,” which prosecutors defined as “meaningful interference.” 

Prelogar’s interpretation of the law failed to satisfy Alito, who, in his questioning, echoed the concerns expressed by Thomas and Gorsuch. 

“We’ve had a number of protests in the courtroom. Let’s say that today, while you’re arguing… five people get up, one after the other and they shouted either, ‘Keep the January 6 insurrectionists in jail’ or ‘Free the January 6 patriots,’ and as a result of this, police officers have to remove them forcibly from the courtroom, and let’s say we have to delay the proceedings for five minutes. … Would that be a violation of 1512,” Alito asked, referring to the contentious law. 

Barrett joined in, asking: “Tell me why I shouldn’t be concerned about the breadth of the government’s reading?” 

The judges will now weigh the merits of the case and issue a ruling in June, according to media reports. 

The case originated from criminal charges filed against Joseph W. Fischer, a former cop who was arrested after entering the Capitol on Jan. 6 and charged with obstruction of an official proceeding. 

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