53 S.E.2d 14 (Va. 1949), 3508, Waltrip v. Commonwealth

Docket Nº:3508.
Citation:53 S.E.2d 14, 189 Va. 365
Opinion Judge:Gregory
Attorney:Channing M. Hall, for the plaintiff in error.
Case Date:April 25, 1949
Court:Supreme Court of Virginia

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53 S.E.2d 14 (Va. 1949)

189 Va. 365




No. 3508.

Supreme Court of Virginia

April 25, 1949

[189 Va. 366] Channing M. Hall, for the plaintiff in error.

J. Lindsay Almond, Jr., Attorney General, and Ballard Baker, Assistant Attorney General, for the Commonwealth.



Waltrip, the petitioner, was found guilty of violating the State game laws in the circuit court of York county. He admitted that he had shot and killed a rabbit within the boundaries of Camp Peary on July 2, 1948, out of the lawful hunting season for rabbits in this Commonwealth.

The error assigned is that the area of Camp Peary is owned by the United States; that it has exclusive jurisdiction within the territorial limits of the area, and that the game [189 Va. 367] laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia are not enforceable therein.

In September, 1942, and subsequent thereto, the United States acquired the fee-simple title to several thousand acres of land in York county. This area was used during the war as a training camp. In 1947 the United States, through its proper officers, executed an indeterminate revocable permit granting to the Commonwealth of Virginia permission to occupy and use the Camp Peary area 'in connection with the activities of the Conservation

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Commission and the Game and Inland Fisheries Commission.'

There is no proof in the record that any authorized officer of the United States ever applied for or secured from the Commonwealth of Virginia cession of any jurisdiction, exclusive or partial, over this area. The United States has never sought nor accepted jurisdiction over it. On the other hand, from certain correspondence, filed by agreement of parties, it is definitely shown that the United States not only never accepted any jurisdiction over this area, but it expressly refused to accept such jurisdiction. These letters are from the Bureau of Yards and Docks of the Navy Department and the Public Works Department.

The petitioner bases his contention upon certain constitutional provisions. He relies upon article 1, section 1, of the Constitution of the United States, which provides, 'All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.'

He also relies upon article 1, section 8, subsection 1, of the same Constitution, which provides, 'the Congress shall have power to * * * provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States', and subsection 17, in which it is provided that Congress shall have power 'to exercise exclusive legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such district * * * as may, by Session of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Legislature of the [189 Va. 368] State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings.'

He also relies upon subsection 18 of said article, which provides that Congress shall have power 'to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof'.

It is contended that the foregoing constitutional provisions gave the Congress the power to legislate and to exercise exclusive jurisdiction over Camp Peary as property of the United States acquired for war purposes with the consent of the legislature of Virginia.

Camp Peary has innumerable buildings. At one time during the recent World War there were some sixty to sixty-five thousand men in training there. Many buildings still remain. The United States is still the fee-simple owner of the land but, as stated, it has entrusted or permitted the Commonwealth of Virginia to have temporary possession and custody of the...

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