United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
March 13, 2019
Remand from the Supreme Court of the United States
Leonard R. Powell argued the cause for appellant. With him on
the briefs was Jessica Ring Amunson.
R. Bates, Assistant U.S. Attorney, argued the cause for
appellee. With her on the briefs were Jesse K. Liu, U.S.
Attorney, and Elizabeth Trosman, Chrisellen R. Kolb, Jeffrey
Pearlman, and Valinda Jones, Assistant U.S. Attorneys.
Before: Griffith and Srinivasan, Circuit Judges, and
Sentelle, Senior Circuit Judge.
Griffith, Circuit Judge.
law prohibits the possession of firearms on the grounds of
the United States Capitol. 40 U.S.C. § 5104(e). Rodney
Class pleaded guilty to violating this law after parking a
car containing three guns on a street near the Capitol. He
now argues that, as applied to his case, the law violates the
Second Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth
Amendment. These claims lack merit, and we affirm his
2013, Rodney Class drove to the United States Capitol in
Washington, D.C. He parked his car in one of the many angled
parking spots that line the 200 block of Maryland Avenue SW
(the "Maryland Avenue lot"). That parking spot sits
just north of the United States Botanic Gardens and
approximately 1, 000 feet from the entrance to the Capitol
itself. The street is accessible to the general public, but
the parking spot Class used is reserved on weekdays (like the
Thursday he parked there) for employees of the House of
Representatives. The parking lot is marked by a sign
indicating a permit is required. Class locked his car and
walked inside the Capitol. Upon his return, several police
officers were peering into his car. One asked Class if he had
any weapons inside, and he answered that he did. The officer
told Class that it was illegal to have weapons on Capitol
Grounds and took Class to Capitol Police headquarters. When
the car was searched, three firearms were found.
was indicted for possession of a firearm while on the grounds
of the Capitol, in violation of 40 U.S.C. § 5104(e)(1)
(the "Capitol Grounds ban"). He filed several
motions seeking to dismiss the indictment, arguing, inter
alia, that the Capitol Grounds ban violated his Second
Amendment right to bear arms. The district court denied these
motions from the bench, holding that the Capitol Grounds ban
"does not burden conduct protected by the Second
Amendment," because "laws prohibiting individuals
from carrying firearms in sensitive places, such as
government buildings, are presumptively lawful." Tr. of
Mot. Hr'g at 18, United States v. Class, No.
1:13-cr-0253-1 (D.D.C. Oct. 27, 2014), Dkt. No. 193. Class
subsequently entered an unconditional guilty plea.
appealed his conviction on both constitutional and statutory
grounds. United States v. Class, No. 15-3015, 2016
WL 10950032, at *1 (D.C. Cir. July 5, 2016). We affirmed his
conviction, holding that his unconditional guilty plea waived
his right to appeal on those grounds. Id. at *2. The
Supreme Court reversed, holding that Class did not waive his
constitutional claims because they challenged the
government's very power to make his conduct criminal.
Class v. United States, 138 S.Ct. 798, 805 (2018).
remand, we now consider the merits of those claims: first,
that the ban as applied to Class's conduct violates his
Second Amendment right to bear arms, and second, that the ban
violates the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause because
the law defining the Capitol Grounds is complicated enough
that Class lacked notice that he was on them. Because these
claims present questions of law, we review them de novo.
United States v. Yakou, 428 F.3d 241, 246 (D.C. Cir.
2005).The district court had jurisdiction
pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3231. We have appellate
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291.
evaluate the constitutionality of firearms regulations, we
first determine "whether a particular provision impinges
upon a right protected by the Second Amendment."
Heller v. District of Columbia (Heller II),
670 F.3d 1244, 1252 (D.C. Cir. 2011). If it does, we ask
"whether the provision passes muster under the
appropriate level of constitutional scrutiny."
Id. Because we conclude that the Capitol Grounds ban
does not "impinge upon a right protected by the Second
Amendment," we do not reach the second question.
Second Amendment protects the right to own and carry a
firearm outside the home. Wrenn v. District of
Columbia, 864 F.3d 650, 657-58 (D.C. Cir. 2017); see
District of Columbia v. Heller (Heller I), 554
U.S. 570, 635 (2008). But the right is not unlimited. The
Supreme Court has been careful to note that
"longstanding prohibitions" like "laws
forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such
as schools and government buildings" remain
"presumptively lawful." Heller I, 554 U.S.
at 626, 627 n.26. A challenger may rebut this presumption
only by ...