SCOTUS Appears To Side With Accused Jan. 6 Rioter In Obstruction Case

5 weeks ago Conservative judges on the U.S. Supreme Court appeared to side with an accused January 6 rioter in his obstruction case on Tuesday.

The case could possibly affect the prosecution of Donald Trump who faces the same charge for trying to overturn his 2020 election loss.

With a 6-3 majority on the bench, conservative justices heard an appeal from Joseph Fischer, a January 6 defendant and former police officer in Pennsylvania and they expressed concern at an obstruction provision applied to his case.

The provision stemmed from the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act, drawn up after the Enron accounting fraud scandal.

A lawyer for Fischer argued prosecutors had misapplied the evidence-tampering statute to his client’s case.

Conservative justices appeared skeptical of the Justice Department’s broad reading of the statute.

Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts suggested it only apply to defendants who alter or destroy evidence.

Liberal justices challenged this narrower view of the law, while Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar tried to remind the court Fischer’s actions on January 6 impeded law enforcement officers from regaining control of the Capitol and letting Congress finish its work.

The Supreme Court’s ruling is expected by the end of June.

A decision dismissing Fischer’s case would likely prompt re-sentencing, or requests for new trials for some 350 other people charged with obstruction in the Capitol attack.

Experts say such a ruling could also make it more complicated - but not impossible - to make Trump's obstruction-related charges stick.

The former president faces four federal criminal charges brought against him by Special Counsel Jack Smith, including conspiring to defraud the United States, corruptly obstructing an official proceeding and conspiring to do so, and conspiring against the right of Americans to vote.

Trump aims to throw out those charges by arguing he is entitled to presidential immunity, and the Supreme Court will hear his case on April 25.