Davids: Court decision ‘concerning’

U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids characterizes U.S. Supreme Court decision on Jan. 6 rioters as ‘deeply concerning.'

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July 1, 2024 - 2:15 PM

U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, D-Kansas, said she was disappointed with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that declared federal prosecutors overstepped their authority by charging hundreds of Jan. 6, 2021, rioters with obstruction. Photo by Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector

TOPEKA — The lone Democrat in the Kansas congressional delegation expressed dismay Friday the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision establishing that federal prosecutors improperly sought charges of obstructing an official proceeding against rioters who breached the Capitol in January 2021.

U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, the 3rd District representative seeking reelection in 2024, was in the Capitol complex Jan. 6 when a crowd of people overwhelmed security forces and entered the Capitol. The U.S. House and U.S. Senate were engaged in considering measures that affirmed President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump in the November 2020 national election.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision is deeply concerning and undermines the sacrifices made by Capitol Police and the trauma experienced by millions of Americans,” Davids said. “We must keep working toward full accountability to ensure nothing like January 6th ever happens again. We cannot let extremism win.”

Davids said the melee was “one of the darkest days in our nation’s history with lives lost, hundreds injured and millions impacted as extreme actors violently attacked the U.S. Capitol and our democracy.”

The Supreme Court’s opinion said a federal charge of obstruction of an official proceeding — most commonly linked to financial crimes such as evidence tampering — should have been applied narrowly in terms of the Jan. 6 attackers. The court said the charge should have been limited to instances in which a defendant allegedly damaged physical evidence.

To prove a case of obstruction, the Supreme Court said prosecutors must demonstrate a defendant “impaired the availability or integrity for use in an official proceeding of records, documents, objects” in the proceeding.

More than 300 individuals have been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice for violating the obstruction law, and approximately half have been convicted.

The case leading to the Supreme Court opinion was brought by Joseph Fischer, who was among those charged with  obstruction. Former President Donald Trump also was charged with the offense for trying to block certification of Biden’s election triumph.

In aftermath of the insurrection, all six members of the Kansas congressional delegation were critical of the mob that forced its way into the Capitol.

One person was shot to death by a Capitol Police officer during the riot. Many others were injured, including about 175 law enforcement officers. The attack caused at least $2.7 million in damage to the Capitol, but didn’t prevent Congress from voting to affirm Biden’s victory.

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