SCOTUS to Hear Case With Vast Implications On Jan 6 Defendants

A case that the Supreme Court will consider on Tuesday may have ramifications for several of the defendants connected to the events of January 6. It may also affect special counsel Jack Smith’s continuing investigation into former President Donald Trump.

The scope of obstruction legislation, Section 1512(c)(2), which imposes a maximum prison penalty of 20 years on persons who corruptly interfere with any official activity, is being considered by the Supreme Court in the case of Fischer v. United States. Participating in the events at the Capitol on January 6, Joseph Fischer claims that his prosecution for impeding Congress’s certification of the 2020 election was a novel use of the legislation.

Fischer claims that the legislation was implemented as a component of the Corporate Fraud and Accountability Act of 2002 to combat the falsification of evidence and deter business leaders from engaging in fraudulent activity.

The defendant insisted that he was not a group member who interfered with the election certification process and was in the Capitol for less than four minutes, far after Congress had adjourned. He was arrested in February 2021 on many counts, one of which included a confrontation with Capitol police.

If the Supreme Court decides to support Fischer, it might significantly influence many defendants who have been charged with felonies by the Department of Justice (DOJ) under the same legislation, in addition to his own case. The DOJ has charged a significant fraction of the defendants listed as of January 6th with interfering, influencing, or hindering an official procedure.

According to the government, the language covers actions that affect the availability or integrity of evidence.

Simply put, Congress chose a traditional catch-all language that covers any improper interference with an official process.

By a vote of 2-1, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the government’s view in a decision from April 2023. The court determined that the wording of the legislation is straightforward and clear.

Judge Gregory Katsas, a Trump appointment, disagreed with the government’s interpretation, saying it was erroneous and too broad, perhaps going against the Constitution in several instances.

The Supreme Court will take up Trump’s motion to dismiss his election meddling lawsuit in April due to presidential immunity. However, the Fischer case may call part of the indictment into question.

The district court has placed Trump’s lawsuit on hold and is awaiting the justices’ ruling. The court will hold oral arguments on April 25 to address Trump’s claim of presidential immunity.