The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to hear an appeal by a defendant from the Capitol Hill protest that took place on January 6, 2021. Legal experts have indicated that the case is significant as the Supreme Court’s ruling could “undo” many of the Jan. 6 cases and could have major implications for Special Counsel Jack Smith’s case against former President Donald Trump.
According to NBC News, the Supreme Court will consider the case of Joseph Fischer, a Jan. 6 defendant, who is appealing for the dismissal of a charge against him for obstructing an official proceeding by participating in the Capitol Hill protest during Congress’s certification of the 2020 presidential election.
According to The Daily Wire, Fischer’s case involves a provision listed under 18 U.S. Code 1512, which is an obstruction law that states, “Whoever corruptly otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.”
The Supreme Court will hear arguments regarding how President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice has utilized the obstruction law provision to prosecute individuals involved in the Capitol Hill protest.
Tom Caso, a Claremont Institute Senior Legal Fellow, told The Daily Wire that the government has used the legal provision in an unprecedented way to prosecute Jan. 6 defendants.
“The amazing thing is if you look at the way the government is portraying the statute, you kind of wonder why it hasn’t been applied before,” Caso stated. “I think about all of the antics of the protesters at Supreme Court nomination approvals before Congress — you know, the Code Pink folks and whoever else stands up and shouts during that testimony. Why have they never been prosecuted under this statute? They are obviously trying to impede an official proceeding.”
Caso told The Daily Wire it is “kind of strange” that the legal statute being used to prosecute Jan. 6 defendants has “only now been discovered.” He added that while the statute has “been on the books” for a considerable amount of time, it has “never been applied in this particular manner before.”
Kira Anne West, a Jan. 6 defense attorney, told The Daily Wire that the Supreme Court could “undo a whole bunch of cases” if it rules that the obstruction law has been misused by the Justice Department.
The obstruction law that has been used by Biden’s Justice Department has also been used in one of the charges against Trump brought by Smith. According to the Daily Wire, Trump’s trial is currently scheduled for March of 2024; however, if the Supreme Court ruled against the way the Justice Department has used the provision to prosecute Jan. 6 defendants, Smith’s prosecution of the former president could be delayed.
“Since this statute is key to Jack Smith’s prosecution, and the Supreme Court ruling on this case is not likely to come out until the end of June, that could hold up the prosecution or the trial until after the Supreme Court rules,” Caso said. “That’s going to be in the hands of the district court judge.”