The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a monumental case on a federal obstruction law that could potentially “undo” hundreds of January 6 cases and directly impact Special Council Jack Smith’s case against former President Donald Trump.
The case concerns a specific provision of 18 U.S. Code 1512, an obstruction law, which states, “whoever corruptly otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.” The court will examine how the Biden Department of Justice has been using the provision, possibly in context with that broader statute, to prosecute J6 defendants.
Tom Caso, Senior Legal Fellow at the Claremont Institute, told The Daily Wire the government’s application of the provision in this way is largely unprecedented.
“The amazing thing is if you look at the way the government is portraying the statute, you kind of wonder why it hasn’t been applied before,” Caso said. “I think about all of the antics of the protesters at Supreme court nomination approvals before Congress — you know, the Code Pink folks and whoever else stands up and shouts during that testimony. Why have they never been prosecuted under this statute? They are obviously trying to impede an official proceeding.”
“It’s kind of strange that the statute is only now been discovered,” he said. “It’s been on the books for quite some time. … It was part of the Dodd-Frank legislation [and] it’s never been applied in this particular manner before.”
The obstruction law has been used by the DOJ against more than 300 J6 defendants thus far, and notably holds a punishment of up to 20 years behind bars. It’s also one of the charges President Trump is facing in a trial currently scheduled for March.
If the Supreme Court agrees that the law has been misapplied by the DOJ, effectively siding with the defendants, the ruling could “undo a whole bunch of cases,” says J6 defense attorney Kira Anne West. Moreover, it could adjust the sentences of those who’ve already been sentenced.
Such a ruling could also potentially slow down Smith’s prosecution of Trump. Notably, Smith is trying to prosecute the former president before the 2024 election, while Trump is working to delay the trial.
“Since this statute is key to Jack Smith’s prosecution, and the Supreme Court ruling on this case is not likely to come out until the end of June, that could hold up the prosecution or the trial until after the Supreme court rules,” Caso told The Daily Wire. “That’s going to be in the hands of the district court judge.”
Caso added that it’s unclear which way the Supreme Court will go on the issue. The Court doesn’t usually interpret a small provision to “wipe out” the rest of the language of a statute, he said, but, on the other hand, the court could read the provision in isolation and uphold the government’s position.