U.S. can’t charge Jan. 6 defendant with anti-obstruction law | WORLD
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U.S. can’t charge Jan. 6 defendant with anti-obstruction law

The U.S. Supreme Court Associated Press/Photo by Jose Luis Magana

U.S. can’t charge Jan. 6 defendant with anti-obstruction law

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday issued a 6-3 ruling in favor of Joseph Fischer, who participated in the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021. Prosecutors charged him with violating a provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which prohibits destroying documents to obstruct a federal investigation. Lawmakers passed that law in 2002 in response to a case of major accounting fraud and subsequent coverup at the energy company Enron. Fischer argued the statute applied only to destroying evidence, which he did not do. Chief Justice John Roberts authored the majority opinion. Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

What exactly did the court rule on this matter? The court found that the statute in question did not apply to Fischer’s actions. Allowing prosecutors to use it in cases like Fischer’s would grant them authority to seek lengthier sentences than Congress intended for such alleged offenses, the court ruled. It sent the case back down to the District Court for further proceedings.

The high court’s decision could lead to prosecutors dropping two charges against former President Donald Trump. He faces four charges in Washington, D.C., of obstructing an official proceeding, trying to defraud the United States, and conspiring to take away Americans' right to a proper vote count.

Dig deeper: Listen to Mary Reichard and Nick Eicher’s discussion about Fischer’s case on The World and Everything in It podcast.

Josh Schumacher

Josh is a breaking news reporter for WORLD. He’s a graduate of World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College.

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