Thursday, October 4, 2007

3rd Amendment

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.

People forget about the 3rd Amendment these days, but 200 years ago, this landed #3 on the founding fathers list of things that piss me off. The reason we forget about the 3rd Amendment rights, is because these rights have not been eroded or challenged since the civil war.

Although we don’t think about it much in the 21st century, this is a huge leap for the rights of the common people. Most of history, all property was the right the king or who ever had the biggest club. There was nothing to protect the commoner against “might makes right.” Everyday was lived in fear of loosing everything, legally to the powers that be.

Of course the 3rd amendment was routinely ignored during the civil war. The actions of the Union forces can be shown to have violated both clauses of the end of the amendment. First of all, Congress never declared war on the Confederate States and even if they had, no manner had been prescribed.

There is very little legal precedent to review. There was only one Federal case involving the 3rd Amendment, Engblom v Carey. This involved striking prison workers who had been living in government provided housing. The National Guard was called in to run the prison and was housed in the facilities of the striking workers. This case went to the prison because the striking workers were not the owners and the case never reached the Supreme Court.

Having been about 150 years since US troops were quartered in private homes, it is interesting to think that in the event of war and with a prescribed manner, I could be forced to host US troops without my consent. I hope they like my chili.

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