Convicted Protester Gets 9th Circuit Rehearing

     (CN) – An anti-war activist whose trespassing conviction the U.S. Supreme Court upheld last year persuaded the 9th Circuit on Monday to rehear his case.
     John Apel has protested for years near Vandenberg Air Force Base, which houses missile- and space-launch facilities in Santa Barbara County. His methods have included throwing blood on a sign for the base in 2003, resulting in a three-year ban from a protest area near the base.
     When Apel again trespassed off the designated protest area in 2007, he was permanently barred, with limited permission to travel on Highway 1 or Highway 246, which allows access to a beach and a train station at the western edge of the base.
     Apel argued that the military had no right to kick him off of land set aside for protest. A federal judge disagreed, but a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit reversed the convictions in 2012.
     The appellate panel found that the protest area was a public forum because Santa Barbara County has an easement on a stretch of highway running through Vandenberg.
     The Supreme Court later vacated that holding, and the 9th Circuit affirmed the trespass convictions on remand.
     In a brief order published Monday, the 9th Circuit granted Apel’s petition for panel rehearing in the case.

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