Federal Judge Rejects Proud Boys’ “Free Speech” Defense in January 6 Court Case

Federal Judge has rejected a request by the Proud Boys to drop charges related to their involvement with the January 6th breach of the United States Capitol Building.

Four members of the far right organization — Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl and Charles Donohoe — have been indicted with multiple charges, including conspiracy and obstruction to attack the Capitol. The Congress had been convened to certify results from the 2020 election. The defendants’ lawyers sought to dismiss the charges on the grounds of free speech rights.

On Tuesday, Timothy Kelly, U.S. District Judge, issued a 43-page decision rejecting the motion.

“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 in his opinion.

Kelly stated that while some actions are not strictly speech-protected by the Constitution, Kelly said that those taken by the Proud Boys are not.

“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 wrote. “Moreover, even if the charged conduct had some expressive aspect, it lost whatever First Amendment protection it may have had” when they engaged in violent conduct, Kelly added.

Defense lawyers tried to argue that the case should not be dismissed, arguing that the certification of the 2020 presidential elections taking place that day was insufficient evidence. wasn’t an “official proceeding — an argument based on a distorted definition of those words, according to Kelly in his ruling,

The Proud Boys is a far-right militant group with a particularly violent and racist past. Led a number of attacks against left-leaning activist. Enrique Tarrio was arrested for charges related to the Proud Boys’ leader, days before the Capitol attack. The burning of a Black Lives Matter banner in a historically Black churchWashington, D.C.

TrumpDuring the 2020 presidential debates, the Proud Boys were not condemned, instead telling them to “stand back and stand by,” which the group interpreted as an endorsement.

The trial for the Proud Boys members is set to begin in May 2022. All four of them will remain in prison until the trial begins.