Updated Aug 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

"Not patriotism": Sentencing judges rebuke Capitol rioters

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson listens during the investiture ceremony for U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden April 13, 2018 at the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson at the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A federal judge sentencing a Michigan man in D.C. Wednesday over his role in the U.S. Capitol riot dismissed any notion that he's a political prisoner.

Driving the news: U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that she wasn't sentencing Karl Dresch, of Calumet, "because he is a supporter" of former President Trump, noting that "millions of people" had voted for him "and did not heed his call to descend on the nation's Capitol," per the Detroit News.

"He is not a political prisoner. ... He was an enthusiastic participant in an effort to subvert the electoral process."
— Excerpt from Jackson's remarks via WUSA9
  • "You called yourself and everyone else patriots, but that's not patriotism," Judge Amy Berman Jackson said to Dresch, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of entering the Capitol, according to CNN.
  • "Patriotism is loyalty to country, loyalty to the Constitution, not loyalty to a head of state. That is the tyranny we rejected on July 4."

The big picture: The Obama-appointed Jackson is the latest federal judge to condemn claims that the riot was due to some form of patriotism — with judges appointed by both Republican and Democratic presidents speaking out on the grave threat the deadly insurrection posed, the Washington Post notes.

  • The Reagan-appointed U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan, who sentenced Northern Virginia couple Joshua Bustle and Jessica Bustle to home confinement Wednesday said her "inaccurate" description of Capitol rioters as "patriots" led to him seriously consider jailing her, per WashPost.
  • "Patriots are not the ones who attack the operations of Congress," he said, noting the fatalities during the insurrection. "That is revolution, not patriotism."

Of note: Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell last Thursday questioned whether it was appropriate for prosecutors to offer defendants misdemeanor plea deals in cases that saw insurrectionists "terrorizing members of Congress," CNN notes.

For the record: Jackson sentenced Dresch to six months in prison. With time served since he was incarcerated in January while awaiting trial, he is set to be released Wednesday or Thursday, per his attorney.

  • He was fined $500 in restitution for participating in the insurrection.
  • Joshua Bustle was sentenced to 30 of conditional home confinement, and Jessica Bustle to 60 days conditional home confinement.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from Hogan and Howell.

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