The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By David G. Savage, Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court in a unanimous decision ruled Wednesday that military commanders have broad power to keep protesters off of bases, including the public roads that pass through them.

The decision upholds the prosecution of a veteran peace activist from Santa Barbara, Calif., who repeatedly returned to protest on a highway outside Vandenberg Air Force Base, even after he had been ordered to stay away.

John Dennis Apel had been barred from Vandenberg in 2003 after he threw blood on a base sign. But he returned repeatedly in the years after to protest inside a designated protest zone along Highway 1.

Officers warned him he was violating the order to stay away, and in 2010, he was escorted away and prosecuted for violating the order. A magistrate convicted him and ordered him to pay $355 in fines and fees.

He appealed and won a reversal from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that the military did not have “exclusive possession” of the public roads and protest areas near the base.

The Supreme Court reversed that decision Wednesday, but without delving into the First Amendment. Writing for the court, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the authority of a base commander “reaches all property within the defined boundaries of a military place. … Those limits do not change when the commander invites the public to use a portion of the base for a road, a school, a bus stop, or a protest area, especially when the commander reserves authority to protect military property by, among other things, excluding vandals and trespassers.”

He noted that because the high court had not dealt with the First Amendment issue in the case, Apel was free to raise that point in a further appeal to the 9th Circuit.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor agreed with the decision but said they believed that “it is questionable whether Apel’s ouster from the protest area can withstand constitutional review.”

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. added a separate statement to fault Ginsburg for voicing a view on an issue that was not part of the case.

Photo: OZinOH via Flickr

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Youtube Screenshot

Seven or eight months ago, many Democratic strategists feared that the 2022 midterms would bring a massive red wave like the red waves that plagued President Bill Clinton in 1994 and President Barack Obama in 2010. But that was before the U.S. Supreme Court’s radical-right majority handed down its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and overturned Roe v. Wade after 49 years. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell still believes that Republicans are likely to “flip” the U.S. House of Representatives, but he considers the U.S. Senate a toss-up.

Keep reading... Show less

President Joe Biden, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, and Vice President Kamala Karris

Youtube Screenshot

Newly-minted Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson will join the court — the first Black woman to do so — today when the new court term begins. And to say it plainly: I’m ecstatic about it.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}