The First Amendment right to free speech doesn’t protect members of the right-wing Proud Boys group from criminal charges over their participation in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot, a federal judge ruled.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly in Washington on Tuesday denied a motion by four Proud Boys members including Auburn-area resident Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs and Zachary Rehl, who led the group’s Philadelphia chapter, to dismiss the charges against them.
Kelly ruled the men had been properly charged with conduct that isn’t protected by the First Amendment, including trespassing, destruction of property and interference with law enforcement — all with the intention of obstructing Congress.
“No matter defendants’ political motivations or any political message they wished to express, this alleged conduct is simply not protected by the First Amendment,” the judge wrote. “Defendants are not, as they argue, charged with anything like burning flags, wearing black armbands, or participating in mere sit-ins or protests.”