Written by Ashton Snyder on
 June 29, 2024

SCOTUS obstruction ruling could significantly impact Trump Jan. 6 case

The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned a critical obstruction charge used against numerous Jan. 6 defendants in a pivotal 6-3 decision.

This ruling significantly affects ongoing cases related to the Capitol unrest, including some against former President Trump, potentially nullifying two of his charges, as the Gateway Pundit reports.

On Friday, the high court issued a ruling on a case involving statute 18 USC §1512(c)(2), which pertains to obstruction of official proceedings. This statute encompasses altering, destroying, mutilating, or concealing records, documents, or other objects to impair their use in an official proceeding. It also includes obstructing, influencing, or impeding any official proceeding, or attempting to do so.

Supreme Court's Interpretation of 18 USC §1512(c)(2)

The court determined that, to prove a breach of this statute, the government must demonstrate that the defendant impaired or tried to impair the availability or integrity of items used in an official proceeding.

Over 300 Jan. 6 defendants were charged under this specific statute by the Department of Justice, making the ruling highly impactful on various ongoing cases. Among these cases are those involving former Trump, with two of Smith’s four charges relying on this statute.

Immediate Legal Consequences

The Supreme Court's ruling vacated the D.C. Circuit's decision and remanded the Fischer case for further proceedings consistent with their interpretation of 18 USC §1512(c)(2).

The opinion stated, "To prove a violation of Section 1512(c)(2), the Government must establish that the defendant impaired the availability or integrity for use in an official proceeding of records, documents, objects, or as we earlier explained, other things used in the proceeding, or attempted to do so." The majority went on, "The judgment of the D. C. Circuit is therefore vacated, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."

Jack Smith's Response to Ruling

In reaction to the ruling, Smith suggested he might seek alternative approaches if the Supreme Court's decision leads to reversing two of the charges against Trump.

Smith contended that the "obstruction" charges against Trump would remain valid since the alternative electoral certificates represent “documents” that were fraudulently employed in an “official proceeding.” This stance implies that Smith is determined to pursue the charges despite the Supreme Court ruling.

Implications For Jan. 6 Defendants

Meanwhile, Matthew Graves, U.S. Attorney for Washington D.C., issued a cautionary statement to the Supreme Court and Jan. 6 defendants currently incarcerated under 18 USC §1512(c)(2). This announcement has introduced uncertainty and concern among those affected by the statute.

The recent ruling has prompted a reevaluation of the legal strategies being used in these high-profile cases.

Future Legal Battles on Horizon

The Supreme Court’s decision inevitably sets the stage for ongoing legal battles and adjustments in prosecutorial approaches for cases tied to the events of Jan. 6.

Analysts predict that the ruling will be scrutinized closely in the upcoming proceedings, potentially leading to more redefined interpretations of similar statutes in the future. All eyes now turn towards the remanded Fischer case and how the D.C. Circuit will handle it in light of the Supreme Court's instructions.

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