United States v. Apel

Vandenberg Air Force Base is a designated a “closed base.” Civilians may not enter without express permission. The Air Force has granted an easement over areas of the Base, so that two public highways traverse the Base. One highway has an adjacent area designated for peaceful protests. The Base commander enacted rules to control the protest area and issued an advisory that anyone who fails to adhere to those policies may be barred from entering the Base. Apel was barred from the Base for trespass and vandalism, but continued to enter the protest area and was convicted of violating 18 U.S.C. 1382, prohibiting reentry of a “military... installation” after having been ordered not to do so “by any officer or person in command.” The district court rejected his defense that the section does not apply to the protest area. The Ninth Circuit reversed. The Supreme Court vacated and remanded. A “military ... installation” encompasses the commanding officer’s area of responsibility, including Vandenberg’s highways and protest area. Section1382 does not require exclusive possession and control. Although the highways and protest area are outside fenced areas on the Base, the entire Vandenberg property is under the administration of the Air Force. Although the Base commander has occasionally closed the highways to the public for security purposes or when conducting a military launch, section 1382 does not require base commanders to make continuous, uninterrupted use of a place within their jurisdiction, lest they lose authority to exclude certain individuals. View "United States v. Apel" on Justia Law