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Supreme Court to hear major challenge to felony statute used against Jan. 6 Capitol rioters


(NEW YORK) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday announced it will take up a major challenge to a felony obstruction statute the Justice Department has used against more than 300 defendants in their investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol.

Any ruling against the use of the “obstruction of an official proceeding” statute would raise the potential that hundreds of cases that federal prosecutors have brought against rioters they accuse of engaging in some of the more serious conduct that threatened the electoral certification on Jan. 6 could be upended.

The same felony charge is also among the four brought by special counsel Jack Smith in his federal election subversion case against former President Donald Trump.

It’s unclear whether the high court’s decision to take up the obstruction case Wednesday could have an impact on Trump’s ongoing efforts to delay his own case given Trump is not accused of participating in the physical breach of the Capitol.

The appeal stems from a consolidation of three separate cases brought against alleged rioters accused of attempting to disrupt the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6 — after a federal judge in the D.C. District Court dismissed the felony count for the defendants by arguing prosecutors interpreted language of the statute too broadly.

That judge, Carl Nichols, is the only judge in the D.C. District Court to have issued such a ruling against the Justice Department’s use of the statute with regards to the Jan. 6 certification, and in April a three judge panel in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 in favor of DOJ.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.


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