Court Looks at Protest Ban at Vandenberg AFB

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court seems likely to reinstate the trespassing conviction of a man who was caught protesting military activities in a zone designated for demonstrators outside the main gate at a California air force base.

The justices did not seem interested Wednesday in the larger First Amendment issues that protester John Dennis Apel sought to raise at the Supreme Court.

The court instead focused on a federal law giving commanding officers authority to prevent people from entering military installations.

Apel had been barred from entering any part of Vandenberg Air Force Base on the central California coast, including the protest area on a public highway that passes near the main gate.

A federal appeals court overturned Apel's conviction because the military shares control of the highway with local authorities.

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