[Ed. – The judges should question what’s going on. None of these people actually broke into the Capitol, and almost none of them did more than wander around harmlessly for a few minutes and leave when Capitol Police told them to. I think they should be punished – have zero sympathy given the mess they helped get us all into through stupidity — but at the misdemeanor level, satisfied by time served.]
If Code Pink demonstrators start screaming during a congressional hearing, should they be charged with a felony and sentenced to 20 years in prison? They have not been, and as much as I dislike Code Pink, they should not be. Thirty days in the hole seems like a sufficient sentence.
But the federal statute that criminalizes “obstructing an official proceeding” of Congress makes such obstruction a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. And according to the Washington Post, federal prosecutors are applying that statute to the protesters — at least 235 of them — who entered the Capitol in January of this year.
A few judges have noticed the disconnect. U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta recently asked how federal prosecutors distinguish felony conduct qualifying as “obstructing an official proceeding” of Congress from misdemeanor offenses the government has brought against those who interrupt congressional hearings. Dissatisfied with the answer, Judge Mehta complained …