Legal experts say Biden admin's legal theory in Jan 6 prosecution 'on the ropes' after Supreme Court argument

Posted 38 days ago

From WWW.FOXNEWS.COM

Legal experts said the Biden administration was "on the ropes" in Tuesday’s oral arguments at the Supreme Court in a case questioning whether a Jan. 6 rioter can be charged with a federal "obstruction" crime, which carries implications for former president Donald Trump.

On Tuesday, Jeffrey Green, lawyer for Joseph Fischer – who is one of more than 300 people charged by the Justice Department with "obstruction of an official proceeding" in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol – argued that the federal statute shouldn’t apply, and that it had only ever been applied to evidence tampering cases.

The Justice Department argued that Fischer’s actions were a "deliberate attempt" to stop a joint session of Congress directly from certifying the 2020 election, thus qualifying their use of the statue that criminalizes behavior that "otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do," and carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

But legal experts told Fox News Digital that the government’s argument started to "fall apart" after questioning from the justices.

Jonathan Turley, a practicing criminal defense attorney and professor at George Washington University, praised Solicitor General Elizabeth Preloger as one of "the best appellate litigators," but said she appeared "clearly on the ropes" and "made some uncharacteristic concessions" on Tuesday.

At one point, Justice Neil Gorsuch questioned whether, under the government’s argument, heckling at the State of the Union address or the recent incident of Rep. Jaamal Bowman, D-N. Y. pulling a fire alarm and diverting a House vote would constitute "obstruction."

"There are multiple elements of the statue that I think might not be satisfied by those hypotheticals," Preloger replied, adding that obstruction requires "meaningful interference" and "corrupt intent."

"Gorsuch laid bare the problems for the government's argument," Turley said. "This is where the government's arguments seem to fall apart in that."

"When pressed… Preloger started to introduce contextual standards and said that these would just not be strong cases. And that was not the way to go, in my opinion."

Carrie Severino, former clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas and president of JCN, noted that the government "had a hard time explaining how this wasn't going to be such a broad, open door that it could allow a lot of behavior that we clearly understand to be protected First Amendment speech – peaceful protests, etc. – to get swept in the way that they're charging it."... (Read more)