Proud Boys’ First Amendment Claims in Jan. 6 Case Rejected by Judge

Photo credit: Washington Post

The federal judge Timothy Kelly has rejected the bid of four Proud Boys leaders to throw out the charges in a major January 6 conspiracy case, allowing the case to move forward.

Proud Boys leaders are accused of conspiracy to lead and outfit members of their group in a paramilitary-style, violent assault on the Capitol.

While the first wave of US Capitol riot-related trials is preparing to begin in February, the 43-page opinion Judge Kelly issued on Tuesday gave momentum to prosecutors siding with the DOJ on several key legal questions.

It allowed the prosecution to use a felony obstruction charge – which carries a maximum 20-year prison term – among several other charges, against Proud Boys leaders Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Charles Donohoe, and Zachary Rehl, rejecting their claim that the riot could’ve been a protected First Amendment demonstration.

Judge Kelly stated that the alleged conduct with which they have been charged is simply not protected by the First Amendment regardless of the political motivations or the political message the Defendants wished to express.

His ruling in the Proud Boys case is especially notable because it’s among the most prominent prosecutions related to January 6, along with a separate case against members of the Oath Keepers, another right-wing group, presided by Judge Amit Mehta.

Although nearly every defendant charged with the felony obstruction charge is challenging its legality in court, it has been the cornerstone of many of the most serious cases related to the Jan. 6 attack on Congress that the DOJ is working on.

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