A federal judge is allowing a significant Jan. 6 conspiracy case against several Proud Boys leaders to move ahead, refusing their request to dismiss the charges.
On Tuesday (Dec. 28), Judge Timothy Kelly ruled that several charges, including obstruction, against defendants Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Charles Donohoe and Zachary Rehl can proceed. The judge also declined their claims that the riot was a protected demonstration under the First Amendment. “No matter Defendants political motivations or any political message they wished to express, this alleged conduct is simply not protected by the First Amendment,” Kelly wrote.
“Defendants are not, as they argue, charged with anything like burning flags, wearing black armbands, or participating in mere sit-ins or protests,” the judge added. “Moreover, even if the charged conduct had some expressive aspect, it lost whatever First Amendment protection it may have had.”
According to CNN, the felony obstruction charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars. Kelly has become the fourth D.C. District Court judge to support prosecutors’ use of the law in the Capitol riot cases.
“Quite obviously, there were many avenues for Defendants to express their opinions about the 2020 presidential election, or their views about how Congress should perform its constitutional duties on January 6, without resorting to the conduct with which they have been charged,” Kelly wrote.
Earlier this year, Nordean criticized Donald Trump for deceiving his supporters and abandoning them after they proved their loyalty on Jan. 6. “We are now and always have been on our own,” he said at the time. “So glad he was able to pardon a bunch of degenerates as his last move and shit on us on the way out. Fuck you, Trump. You left us on [t]he battlefield bloody and alone.”
All four men have pleaded not guilty to the charges.