Monday, February 28, 2011

The Third Amendment

I've often referred to the 3rd Amendment as an example of ideas which made sense at the time of the writing of the Bill of Rights, but which have no meaning today. I feel this applies also to the 2nd Amendment, but admittedly, the 3rd is a clearer example.

Zorroy provided this link to a wonderfully humorous Onion article which makes the same point in their satirical way. But, oddly, he accompanied the link with this: "The Third Amendment is not irrelevant--the government requiring people to house and feed soldiers in their homes would be an intolerable abuse."

From The Onion:

The National Anti- Quartering Association, America's foremost Third Amendment rights group, held its annual gala in Washington Monday to honor 191 consecutive years of advocating the protection of private homes and property against the unlawful boarding of military personnel.

"This is a proud day for quarters-owners everywhere," said the organization's president, Charles Davison, in his keynote address. "Year after year, we have sent a loud and clear message to the federal government and to anyone else who would attack our unassailable rights: Hands off our cottages, livery stables, and haylofts."
In early 19th-century America when troops were moving from say, Pennsylvania to Virginia, this amendment made some sense. Today it doesn't.

In a similar way, in the very early days of our nation, when standing armies were a concern and when the federal government had exactly the same weapons of war as the civilian population, the 2nd Amendment made some sense. Today it doesn't.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.


  1. So just because the threat of quartering soldiers in our homes no longer seems likely or even really possible, does that mean that the right does not exist?

    The Bill of Rights does not grant any rights, it limits the government from infringing on rights that were already pre-existing. If we were to rescind the protections of the 3rd Amendment, it does not mean the right just goes away, the right to NOT be forced to give up our home for soldiers against our will still exists whether there's a need for it or not.


  2. Thanks for crediting me for finding the Onion article, but I notice that you didn't bother to mention that I also pointed to a federal case, within the last thirty years, that did revolve around the Third Amendment (although it took me a couple tries to get the link right).

    The plaintiffs, in fact, were found to have had their Third Amendment rights violated:

    A state National Gaurdsman is a "soldier" by definition of the Third Amendment, and due to this, the defendants' Third Amendment rights were violated by housing them in the defendants' residence without their expressed consent. Even though they did not own the property they dwelled in, they were still entitled to the Amendment, because they lived in the building as an "Owner" would. By virtue of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Third is incorporated onto the states. District court affirmed.

    Doesn't sound irrelevant to me.

    Oh, and by the way, the fact that the ruling found that a "state National Gaurdsman is a 'soldier'" would seem to indicate that it's not only Perpich v. DoD that establishes that the National Guard is, in effect, part of the standing army, thus dismissing the silly fiction that the NG is today's militia.

  3. That was our Governor in MN, Rudy Perpich. Ahhhh, Iron Ranger Rudy...LOL.

    Zerroy, I'd rely on the legal opinion and thinking of Laci the Chinese Crested over you any day, BOTH dog AND human.

  4. "I've often referred to the 3rd Amendment as an example of ideas which made sense at the time of the writing of the Bill of Rights, but which have no meaning today."

    Since it has no meaning today, it's okay if a battalion stays at your house?

  5. How about if we do away with the 2nd Amendment and from now on if you want a gun you just have to say you want a gun, and pass the background check of course.

  6. How do you intend to "do away with" part of the Bill of Rights? If you think you can mobilize the effort to amend the Constitution, you're welcome to try. Assuming you can get 290 representatives and 67 senators to go along with this brilliant plan of yours, then you'll have to get 3/4ths of the states to ratify it. That means 38 states, so that if 13 states don't like the idea, you're out of luck.

    As I remember, that wouldn't be the first time that 13 states (or what soon became states, anyway) defeated tyrannical evil.

    Or, you could just shove that idea of yours back where you got it.

    You should probably wash your hands afterward.