How could the Supreme Court's Fischer v. US case impact the other Jan 6. trials including Trump's?

A former Pennsylvania cop might hold the key to a major upheaval in how the courts treat the Capitol riot — and its alleged instigator

Photo composite of Donald Trump and scenes from the Jan 6 attack
(Image credit: Illustration by Stephen Kelly / Getty Images / AP)

There is little question that Joseph Fischer was present for, and to some degree participated in, the Jan. 6 Capitol riot in Washington, D.C., in 2021. By his own attorney's admission, Fischer entered the Capitol complex and "pushed his way through the crowd — to about 20 feet inside the building" before he was pepper sprayed and ultimately exited the premises. Fischer not only yelled "charge" toward a phalanx of Metropolitan Police Department officers protecting the building, said federal investigators, but urged fellow rioters to "hold the line" and seemingly identified himself as "a cop, too" during a brief melee with members of the MPD. Prosecutors allege he also claimed he wanted to take Democratic lawmakers "to the gallows," texting an acquaintance that they "can't vote if they can't breathe."

Just over a month later, Fischer was arrested by the FBI and suspended from his job as a North Cornwall Township Police Department patrolman. He now faces a host of criminal charges including assaulting a police officer, disorderly conduct, and, crucially: obstructing a congressional proceeding. That is one of the same charges brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith against former President Donald Trump for allegedly working to subvert the results of the 2020 election. But all that could change after the Supreme Court this week heard arguments to waive Fischer's obstruction charge on the grounds that the law in question had been improperly applied in this case, and potentially hundreds of similar Jan. 6-related cases — including Trump's. 

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Rafi Schwartz, The Week US

Rafi Schwartz has worked as a politics writer at The Week since 2022, where he covers elections, Congress and the White House. He was previously a contributing writer with Mic focusing largely on politics, a senior writer with Splinter News, a staff writer for Fusion's news lab, and the managing editor of Heeb Magazine, a Jewish life and culture publication. Rafi's work has appeared in Rolling Stone, GOOD and The Forward, among others.