Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...


Everything but tech support.

0626, 01 Jul 24

SCOTUS Pushes Back on Overreaching DOJ

And another excellent ruling. The DOJ stretched the meaning and intent of this statute in an act of political retribution. This is not as much about Jan 6 as it is about a rogue law enforcement agency that is targeting political opponents wherever it can. I hope that every person prosecuted by the DOJ under this law sues and gets relief.

The Supreme Court on Friday threw out the charges against a former Pennsylvania police officer who entered the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, attacks. By a vote of 6-3, the justices ruled that the law that Joseph Fischer was charged with violating, which bars obstruction of an official proceeding, applies only to evidence tampering, such as destruction of records or documents, in official proceedings.


Friday’s ruling could affect charges against more than 300 other Jan. 6 defendants. The same law is also at the center of two of the four charges brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith against former President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C.




The law at the center of Fischer’s case is 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2), which makes it a crime to “otherwise obstruct[], influence[], or impede[] any official proceeding.” U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols concluded that because the previous subsection, Section 1512(c)(1), bars tampering with evidence “with the intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding,” Section 1512(c)(2) only applies to cases involving evidence tampering that obstructs an official proceeding, and he dismissed the obstruction charge against Fischer.


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed Nichols’ ruling, concluding that the “meaning of the statute is unambiguous,” so that it “applies to all forms of corrupt obstruction of an official proceeding, other than the conduct that is already covered by” the prior subsection.


On Friday, the Supreme Court vacated the D.C. Circuit’s decision, interpreting the law more narrowly to apply only to evidence tampering.

Perhaps the most stunning about this ruling was the breakdown of the Justices. Barrett sided with the leftists and Jackson sided with the conservatives. Jackson even said in her concurring opinion:

Jackson suggested that it “beggars belief that Congress would have inserted a breathtakingly broad, first-of-its kind criminal obstruction statute (accompanied by a substantial 20-year maximum penalty) in the midst of a significantly more granular series of obstruction prohibitions without clarifying its intent to do so.”

And, frankly, Barrett’s opinion is downright scary:

Although “events like January 6th” may not have been the target of subsection (c)(2), she acknowledged (noting in a parenthetical, “Who could blame Congress for that failure of imagination?”)… For Barrett, the text of subsection (c)(2) clearly supports the government’s broader interpretation. Subsection (c)(2), she asserted, “covers all sorts of actions that affect or interfere with official proceedings,” and the word “otherwise” does not limit its scope.

For Barrett, the DOJ should stretch statutes well beyond their intent or writing if something happens that Congress could not have anticipated. She is supporting a government in which the Executive Branch should act in response to events how they see fit even when they do not have Congressional authority to do so.

Nuts to that.


0626, 01 July 2024


Submit a Comment

Pin It on Pinterest