A federal judge has rejected a bid from four members of the far-right group Proud Boys who say their case should be dismissed because their participation in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot was protected by the First Amendment, CNN reports.
Prosecutors will move forward with their felony obstruction charge, as well as other charges, against Proud Boys leaders Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Charles Donohoe and Zachary Rehl, who have all pleaded not guilty.
"No matter Defendants political motivations or any political message they wished to express, this alleged conduct is simply not protected by the First Amendment," Judge Timothy Kelly wrote in a 43-page opinion this Tuesday.
"Defendants are not, as they argue, charged with anything like burning flags, wearing black armbands, or participating in mere sit-ins or protests," Kelly added. "Moreover, even if the charged conduct had some expressive aspect, it lost whatever First Amendment protection it may have had."
"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.