The Supreme Court of the United States could soon have a say on the constitutionality of the extreme sentences that have been handed out to many participants in the January 6th protest at the U.S. Capitol.
The Daily Caller reports that two January 6th defendants, Edward Lang and Garrett Miller, are taking their cases to the Supreme Court to have their obstruction charges dismissed due to “prosecutorial overcharging.” The two men say that federal prosecutors greatly expanded the interpretation of an unrelated statute in order to “over-penalize” the men due to their conservative beliefs.
The statute in question is Section 1512(c)(2), which dictates a maximum prison sentence of 20 years for anyone who “obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding.” The law was originally created to deal with evidence tampering, but has since been expanded to include the counting of the electoral college votes for the 2020 election, which was temporarily disrupted by the protesters.
On August 30th, three other defendants filed an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to hear their cases in order to prevent “a cascade of errors and misconceptions in the application of the law and undeserved harm to the defendants and the public perception of the courts.” These three defendants themselves have cases pending before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, where most of the January 6th cases are being decided. Thus far, over 200 defendants have been charged using this particular statute.
Miller was sentenced in February to 38 months in prison for other charges unrelated to the “obstruction” charge. Lang is currently incarcerated as he awaits trial.
Recent weeks have seen some of the harshest sentences handed out to any of the participants in the protests on that day. Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the right-wing group Oath Keepers, was sentenced to 18 years in prison after being convicted of “seditious conspiracy.” More recently, Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys, was given a 22-year sentence despite not even being present in D.C. on January 6th.