|Dennis Apel. Photo from Paul Wellman,|
Santa Barbara Independent.
Argument: Dec 4 2013 (Aud.)
Background: Dennis Apel is a frequent protester at the front gate of Vandenberg Air Force Base. He was as subject to a pre-existing order barring him from the base, and was convicted of trespassing under 18 U.S.C. § 1382. After his conviction, the Ninth Circuit ruled in another case that a stretch of highway running through the base was subject to an easement "granted to the State of California, which later relinquished it to the County of Santa Barbara," and as a result the federal government lacked the exclusive right of possession of the area on which the trespass allegedly occurred. Therefore, a trespassing conviction under § 1382 was not valid. In a per curiam decision, the Ninth Circuit reversed Apel's conviction.
Issue: The question before the Court is whether 18 U.S.C. § 1382, which prohibits a person from reentering a military installation after a commanding officer has ordered him not to reenter, may be enforced on a portion of a military installation that is subject to a public roadway easement.
Holding: In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled that for purposes of § 1382, a military installation emcompasses the commanding officer's area of responsibility; and here, it includes Vandenberg's highways and protest area. As a result, the Ninth Circuit's decision was vacated and Apel's conviction would be reinstated.
|The painted green line marks the boundary for peaceful|
protest activity, according to Vandenberg Air Force Base.