Third Amendment to the United States Constitution

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The Third Amendment to the United States Constitution is a part of the United States Bill of Rights. It prohibits the quartering of soldiers (military personnel) in private homes without the owner's consent in peacetime. It makes quartering legally permissible in wartime only, but only in accordance with law. The Founding Fathers' intention in writing this amendment was to prevent the recurrence of soldiers being quartered in private citizens' houses as was done in Colonial America by the British military under the Quartering Act before the American Revolution (1775/6).


[edit] Text

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

[edit] History

The original text of the Constitution generated some opposition on the ground that it did not include adequate guarantees of civil liberties. In response, the Third Amendment, along with several amendments including the ten that now form the Bill of Rights, was proposed by Congress in 1789.The process of adoption by ratifications by the requisite number of states was completed on December 15, 1790.

[edit] Case law

The Third Amendment is among the least cited sections of the U.S. Constitution, having been addressed only once by a Federal court. A product of its times, its relevance has greatly declined since the American Revolution. In particular, military operations occurring on U.S. territory have been increasingly infrequent, especially after the Civil War in the 19th century.

[edit] 3rd Amendment and the right to privacy

Some Supreme Court justices have occasionally invoked it when seeking to establish a base for the right to privacy; see, for example, the Opinion of the Court by Justice William O. Douglas in Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 484 (1965). The amendment is seen to imply a belief that an individual's home should be free from agents of the state.

[edit] Directly relevant case law

The only instance a Federal court was asked to invalidate a law or action on Third Amendment grounds was in Engblom v. Carey, decided by the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 1982. In 1979, prison officials in New York organized a strike; they were evicted from their prison facility residences, which were reassigned to members of the National Guard who had temporarily taken their place as prison guards. The prison officials' Third Amendment claims were summarily rejected on the ground that they were not owners of the residences. On appeal, however, the term "owner" was construed more broadly. Since there existed no Supreme Court precedents on the Third Amendment, the Circuit Court of Appeals relied on rulings relating to the Fourth Amendment, as both Amendments relate to what are considered privacy rights (the former to quartering, the latter to search and seizure). It was noted that the Supreme Court had rejected notions that Fourth Amendment protections extended only to owners of property, that Court having ruled that "one who owns or lawfully possesses or controls property will in all likelihood have a legitimate expectation of privacy." Similarly, the Circuit Court extended Third Amendment protections to tenants.

Engblom v. Carey thus represents the whole of the judicial explication of the Third Amendment

[edit] In Practice

Depending upon how one might interpret the latter part of the text, "nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law", U.S. military forces regularly violated the Third Amendment during the War of 1812 and the American Civil War. In both cases, a de facto state of war existed, but forced quartering occured "in a manner" which was not "prescribed by law". Congress never officially declared war against the Confederate States, but this would mean that the forced quartering in states loyal to the Union would have been covered by the first part of the Amendment even if the second part did not.

[edit] External links

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Original text: Preamble ∙ Article 1 ∙ Article 2 ∙ Article 3 ∙ Article 4 ∙ Article 5 ∙ Article 6 ∙ Article 7

Amendments: 1 ∙ 2 ∙ 3 ∙ 4 ∙ 5 ∙ 6 ∙ 7 ∙ 8 ∙ 9 ∙ 10 ∙ 11 ∙ 12 ∙ 13 ∙ 14 ∙ 15 ∙ 16 ∙ 17 ∙ 18 ∙ 19 ∙ 20 ∙ 21 ∙ 22 ∙ 23 ∙ 24 ∙ 25 ∙ 26 ∙ 27
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