Turley: Supreme Court’s Decision Downgrades January 6 Riot Charges from ‘Insurrection’ to ‘Trespassing’


In a blow to the Justice Department’s handling of January 6 riot cases, the Supreme Court has ruled that the most severe law cited in those prosecutions does not apply to riots or protests. Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley argues in The Hill that this decision effectively downgrades the oft-repeated accusations of “insurrection” to mere trespassing.

The court’s decision in Fischer vs. U.S. found that the Department of Justice had taken an overly broad view of 18 U.S.C. 1512(c)(2), a law that prohibits destruction of evidence but was not intended for protests. This law was used to charge many January 6 rioters with obstructing an official proceeding by destroying or hiding documents meant for use in that proceeding.

Turley notes that few, if any, January 6 rioters were ever charged with the federal insurrection statute, 18 U.S.C. 2383. Instead, they were charged under Section 1512(c)(2), which requires interference with the delivery of documents to Congress. Turley argues that the decision will have significant ramifications, affecting hundreds of cases related to January 6.

While Turley believes that some criminal charges should have been pursued for violent offenders, he argues that the Supreme Court’s decision shows that the Justice Department pursued wrongful prosecutions on the obstruction charges. This is supported by statements from DOJ officials, including Michael Sherwin, who admitted that the goal was to create “shock and awe” by charging people with serious crimes.

The decision may also impact Special Counsel Jack Smith’s charges against former President Donald Trump, which include obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and conspiracy against rights. Given the SCOTUS decision, at least half of the indictments may be dropped while Smith seeks a superseding indictment.

Paul Bois
Paul Bois
Paul Bois began working as a writer in 2013 when Ben Shapiro hired him on at his first website, TruthRevolt.org. He has written thousands of news articles on a variety of topics, from current events to pop-cultural trends.

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