Proud Boys members face charges Jan.6, US judge says

December 28 (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Tuesday allowed the advancement of a criminal case related to the deadly attack on Capitol Hill on January 6, refusing to dismiss the charges against four members of the far-right group Proud Boys.

In one written decisionDistrict Judge Timothy Kelly rejected the arguments of the four Proud Boys defendants that the obstruction charges should be dismissed.

The defendants – Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl and Charles Donohoe – have been charged with breaking a federal law that criminalizes obstructing formal government process, among other charges.

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This obstruction charge has been used by prosecutors in more than 230 of the 700 criminal cases against participants in the assault.

Four people died on the day of the riot by supporters of then President Donald Trump and a Capitol Hill police officer died the next day from injuries sustained while defending Congress.

Hundreds of police were injured in the hour-long attack and four officers guarding the Capitol have since committed suicide.

The Proud Boys defendants have said the obstruction law is unconstitutional because it is loosely written and could interfere with free speech rights.

Kelly, who sits in the District of Columbia, rejected this argument.

“Regardless of the defendants’ political motives or any political message they wish to convey, this alleged conduct is simply not protected by the First Amendment,” Kelly said in her ruling. “The defendants are not, as they contend, charged with anything like burning flags, wearing black armbands or participating in simple sit-ins or demonstrations.”

About 40 defendants allegedly affiliated with far-right groups like the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and Three Percenters have been charged with conspiracy to obstruct Congress or law enforcement protecting the Capitol.

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Reporting by Jan Wolfe in Boston; Editing by Noeleen Walder in Washington and Angus MacSwan

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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