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The Third Amendment makes all the others possible

The Third Amendment makes all the others possible

Try blogging with a soldier quartered at your desk.

It’s often said that the Second Amendment makes all the others possible.

Let’s take a step back.

The Second Amendment is good, I’ll admit.  But as readers know, the Third Amendment is just as — if not more — important:

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.

What’s more, what good is the First Amendment if a soldier is quartered at your desk while you try to blog?

So I was glad to see Prof. Glenn Reynolds highlight a symposium at U. Tennessee Law School on the Third Amendment:

[Image via Instapundit]

The importance of the Third Amendment, however forgotten it may be, is why I support the 3rd Amendment, and I vote.

Believe it or not, the Third Amendment sometimes comes up in court cases, still.

And I’m not the only one:

Bumper Sticker - Ithaca - Third Amendment

UPDATE: Prof. Reynolds has a new column at USA Today, Quartering spyware troops in the digital age.


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With all the unconstitutional shit that Obama is pulling, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him import foreign soldiers to “quarter” in the homes of dissidents. That would be the minority that DOES NOT receive money from the government.

About Time! Hooray. It is in the TOP THREE for a reason. Adults don’t need minders.

Houses include houses of business , and in extension in the virtual age: Software that acts as the agent of government running on our computers, networks and servers.

Historically, that was a hellova important assurance to have in the Bill Of Rights.

Putting down a rebellion such as ours became MUCH cheaper and more pleasant for the King and his soldiers if they could be quartered in the homes of the colonists, to say nothing of squelching dissident activities…including pillow talk in the next room.

Conversely, for the colonists, having an extra…NON-productive…adult mouth to feed could be ruinous. You had a giant red leach in your cabin who was armed, and who you REALLY could not just kill, being the King’s soldier.

Imagine having an AFT agent parked in your kitchen 24/7. Something would have to give…

    jhn1 in reply to Ragspierre. | March 1, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    I look at the original Bill of Rights as … like a tripod.
    They all lean on and depend on each other.
    I am sure everyone here can come up with situations where violating a given Amendment in a particular manner makes the other “Rights” meaningless towards defending the freedoms of our Representative Republic.

      Ragspierre in reply to jhn1. | March 1, 2015 at 6:40 pm

      Another comparison I think works is that of stacked rifles.

      First, it ain’t easy to get the whole assembled, and pulling one out can make the whole fall.

      When you need them, you know where to go quickly, though.

Solve the “homeless” issue by forcing homeowners to quarter the homeless?

Soon we will be reduced to only having “freedom of though” but even then the state will accuse one of “thought crimes”.

A soldier is any man-at-arms. Interpreted properly the Third means NO allowance for armed government agents at domestic airport terminals, and at international airports — only at the international gates.

    ThatGuy in reply to bvw. | March 1, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    If you construe “house”, I.E. a private domicile to mean an “airport terminal”, which are almost without fail built with public or combination public/private money, you might either be a Tom Hanks character, or you have one very tenuous argument.

      bvw in reply to ThatGuy. | March 2, 2015 at 1:29 am

      A private business is a “house of business” is a house. The RIGHTS defined in the BoR should follow constructions that are more expansive than the powers granted Federal Government. The powers after all are enumerated and limited, the Tenth and Ninth make clear that rights are expansive.

Is there any case law at all on the 3rd amendment?

Does it apply to federal agents, or only to actual soldiers? What about marines? National Guard?

I will not allow soldiers to be quartered in my house, but their dogs…
well that’s ok! 🙂

Interesting that you mention Blogging in this post.

Are you aware that this past week, in an action that had MOST ASSUREDLY NOTHING TO DO WITH THE FCC NET NEUTRALITY (/sarcasm), Google attempted to ban all porn from blogs?

Reading through the lines, they literally attempted to censor the internet in anticipation of the FCC telling them to do it.

They were forced to reverse themselves after just a few days – but we all know that just means they will quietly do it step by step anyway instead of announcing it and doing it in one fell swoop.

Not enough attention is being given to the disgustingly blatant power grab by the FCC.

    Valerie in reply to Olinser. | March 1, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    If the FCC is interested in getting porn off the Internet, they are welcome to pursue “ISIS.” Once they remove the snuff flicks, we can talk about the ones that are sexy to somebody.

    Google attempted to ban all porn from blogs … they literally attempted to censor the internet

    Only from the free platform, which they own and can do what they like with.

    Not “all” blogs, nor the Internet as a whole.

Anybody up for a little Paul Harvey, circa 1952? In “Remember These Things”, he wrote:

“It’s 1776 again. Right now!

“We, tonight, are taxed to feed and fatten a court of two and a half million federal payrollers and their families.

“And what’s worse, we’re right back supporting British royalty, the British navy, and the decaying remnants of the British Empire _and half the world besides!_

“Once more the Red Coats are eating off the kitchen table.

“Yes, it’s 1776 again. And it’s time for another Boston Tea Party.”

“In a careless moment a few years ago, we Americans gave away all our rights to property.

“We abandoned the rights to private property for which our fathers fought with an innocent sounding constitutional amendment which reads:

‘The Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes from whatever source derived…’

“According to this amendment, the government could take one hundred percent. Today, on all income over eighty thousand dollars a year, the tax is 94 1/2 per cent. So the end is in sight.

“Already things are so bad tax-wise that the only way a good girl can get a mink coat is to steal it.

“From history we know that the ultimate end of extravagance is bankruptcy.

“Many years ago it was stated:

‘It would appear that success is to be punished; that exorbitant taxes have made it a crime for a man to prosper. The end result of such an order can only be the removal of incentive, the discouragement of our people, and the destruction of our free society.’

“Those words were written by a man named Isocrates…ghost writer for the King of Persia…four hundred years before Christ.”

Didn’t know he was a closet radical, did you?

stevewhitemd | March 1, 2015 at 7:56 pm

The 3A is very important indeed.

When a soldier quarters in your home, whose food does he eat? Yours.

In whose bed does he sleep? Yours.

With whose daughter does he sleep? Yours (and try to stop him).

The 3A, along with the Takings Clause of the 5A, made clear that government was indeed limited: some things the government just couldn’t take, and other things the government could take only if it paid properly for them. That was supported by the 2A, of course, which gave us the means to counter a tyrannical government.

The Michael Moore types ridicule the 3A, asking snidely where the redcoats are. We are of course not worried about redcoats: but brown shirts abound, and this is part of how they’ll take the country if permitted.

The 3A makes clear the boundary between citizens and government: this far and no further.

    MarkS in reply to stevewhitemd. | March 1, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    yeah, but…. the “except in time of war in a manner prescribed by law” kinda makes the 3rd Amendment useless. After all aren’t we in the middle of a war on terror?

RandomCrank | March 2, 2015 at 2:29 am

Interesting that, this one time, there was none of the usual right-wing snark about the Supreme Court’s citation of a Third to find a right of privacy. What’s the matter? Integrity got your tongue?

    There’s a right to be an adult. A right as in rights and wrongs. A right is that which under Divine Law and/or civi law the right thing to do. And for adults, that is to be an adult. Adults do not need minders. Do not need “guardians”. We a free to do what is right, and in order to do right we must also be able to do wrong.

    Modesty and humility, to be not intrusive are rights. Privacy is a right. A fundamental one — one of the unstated ones. Because in those days, ADULTS were ADULTS, aND AS A NEW NATION asserting there place as adults at the table of nations.

    With very few exceptions the whole establishment of Federal Armed Men acting as internal guardians of some child-like feral public is a affront to adulthood and Liberty, AND THE CONSTITUTION.

    Glenn Reynolds’ article on the Third Amendment in yesterday’s USA Today did bring up the privacy rights issue.

    Phillep Harding in reply to RandomCrank. | March 2, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    Soooo amazing how predictable your comments are for someone who is supposed to be “random”.

    Ragspierre in reply to RandomCrank. | March 2, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    I find your post unclear.

    Why don’t you elaborate, please?

RandomCrank | March 2, 2015 at 5:27 pm

“I find your post unclear. Why don’t you elaborate, please?”


I’ve always been interested in Supreme Court rulings. The Supremes used privacy to anchor liberal (I’d say libertarian, but that’s a quibble) rulings on contraception, abortion, and homosexual rights. The response from the right wing for the last several decades has been a tidal wave of petulant whining about an “activist” court that makes up rights not explicitly recognized by the constitution.

Well, you don’t get to have it both ways, my dear wingnuts. If you don’t think there’s a right to privacy, then it’s a hell of a stretch to argue that, of all things, the 3rd amendment prohibits the government from infecting computers with spyware. This is just one more of a very tall pile of examples showing that NO ONE prominent in American politics, neither on the left or the right, holds consistent principles about anything, or does anyone apply the same standards to their own conduct and ideas that they apply to those they see as adversaries.

I often feel like a loner that way, because I DO apply principles and a single standard. There are some things I’d like to see — Stalinist show trials for bankers, the summary execution of W and Cheney for war crimes — that I recognize cannot be done because they would be blatantly unconstitutional. I’m here now calling your side out on this, but I do the same on whatever “progressive” site allows dissent. Gun control would be an example; “progressives” fantasies on that subject were effectively gutted by the Heller decision. Period. They get pretty mad when anyone tries to tell them.

Finally, I’ve always found it mighty curious that the right wing has mounted such a fierce attack on court recognition of rights not enumerated by the constitution. There is a widely ignored amendment that speaks directly to the issue, but so-called “originalists” routinely act as if the 10th amendment doesn’t exist.

But now you’ll parade a 3rd amendment argument against spyware? Not to be all pro-spyware, but I can’t help by laugh, or at least chuckle in a snarky sort of way. Hey, you asked me to “elaborate,” so I did.

    Ragspierre in reply to RandomCrank. | March 2, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    ‘K. I sure see the “Crank” part.

    “Finally, I’ve always found it mighty curious that the right wing has mounted such a fierce attack on court recognition of rights not enumerated by the constitution. There is a widely ignored amendment that speaks directly to the issue, but so-called “originalists” routinely act as if the 10th amendment doesn’t exist.”

    Well, you’ve sorta inverted your whole argument. The Supremes have no right whatsoever to “find” rights. This is especially true where the STATES were doing just fine on their own, and WITH 10th Amendment approval. I’d be interested to see your links to “wingnuts” who claim there is NO “privacy” right in the Bill of Rights. I’d also spit in your eye if you claim that “penumbras” provide for a Federal right to abortion on demand.

    So I reject your whole imprecation against “wingnuts” as being inconsistent. AND you being somehow superior.

    Ragspierre in reply to RandomCrank. | March 2, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    Coupla more thoughts…

    I put it to you that the 3rd is NOT about privacy much at all. MOST of the real-world quartering of troops was in alehouses and inns, not in private dwellings.

    Hence, the 3rd is much more concerned with PROPERTY rights. It is very easy to move from a property right in your dwelling or your inn that government cannot invade except in some very constrained circumstances, to having a property right in your computer that government cannot invade except in some extremity.

      RandomCrank in reply to Ragspierre. | March 2, 2015 at 10:21 pm

      “The Third Amendment hasn’t been invoked in these cases — well, actually, it has, in the case of a SWAT team in Henderson, Nev., that took over a family home so that it could position itself against a neighbor’s house — but maybe it should be. At least, maybe we should go farther in recognizing a fundamental right of privacy in people’s homes.”


      That’s the essence of the argument made in USA Today by Glenn Reynolds, who is certainly a conservative by any reasonable definition. He didn’t make a property rights argument, but a privacy argument based on the 3rd. I had never actually read the Griswold case, and was surprised to learn that it cited the 3rd.

      And that decision, along with others following it, has been condemned for decades by conservatives who railed against an “activist” Court that found rights not explicitly recognized by the text of the constitution, even though the 10th pretty much invites the discovery of unenumerated rights.

      For this and other reasons, I’ve always regarded that conservative jihad against judicial “activism,” especially as it concerns privacy, to be laughable and even hypocritical. It’s just one more example, to me, of how ideologues routinely talk out of both sides of their mouths in this country.

      Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | March 2, 2015 at 11:03 pm

      Yeah, I know what Reynolds wrote. You don’t mind if I think for myself, right? That seems to over-tax you.

      Instead of dealing with my point, which is both legally and historically MORE accurate, I think, you just ignored it to go on another silly rant.

      Do privacy rights threaten your happy little delusions? They shouldn’t you know. They are as essential as any we naturally hold.

      You are completely basackwards about the 10th, as I pointed out earlier. It is NOT a trove of “rights” waiting to be “discovered”…”recognized”…or tripped over…by the Federal Supremes. It IS a reserve of rights to the STATES. Seriously, you CAN read, yes?

      There are…and always were…rights that were the sole province of the states, which is WHY marriage and abortion were NEVER Federal issues. Ever.

      There is no “jihad” among Conservatives against privacy interests in the Bill Of Rights. And you can’t cite to any sources that support that. You are just blowing that out your butt. That seems to give you pleasure. You should get some therapy for that.

      There certainly ARE privacy interests suggested in the Amendments, but the Third isn’t a good source. Griswold shows how the Court was reaching to justify an outcome, and what poor legal scholarship and reasoning it employed in its holding in that case and its progeny.

RandomCrank | March 3, 2015 at 2:47 am

Well, I can’t exactly be surprised. This is a right-wing site, so it’s populated by wingnuts who’ll raise a stiff-armed salute to anything they regard as conservative. Same goes for the mirror, i.e., Daily Kos, Think Progress, etc. This is how a republic dies.

    Ragspierre in reply to RandomCrank. | March 3, 2015 at 8:52 am

    Huh? I raised some very sound points that I KNOW were novel to you (i.e., they’d never entered your conceited, smug skull), and you can’t even deal with them rationally.

    I challenged you bullshit about Conservative positions on privacy interests, and you run away crying like a little bitch.

    I corrected your LIES about the 10th Amendment (they are either organic to you or you’re just aping them from some moonbat), and you blubber about “how a republic dies”.

    You’re just another remarkably stupid troll.

      RandomCrank in reply to Ragspierre. | March 3, 2015 at 2:13 pm

      You are just one more crazed Internet ideologue who can’t have a disagreerment without foaming at the mouth. Your kind, both wingnut and lefty, are ruining this republic.

      Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | March 3, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      You’re just a lying POS troll.

      I made several points you never attempted to deal with rationally. Instead you went Godwin’s Law with your “stiff-armed salute” ad hominem. Pitiful!

      I corrected your lies regarding the 10th.

      I challenged you to support your bullshit about Conservative privacy interests in the Bill Of Rights. You never TRIED to support that, because you can’t.

      I presented a novel view of the Third as a principally PROPERTY rights issue, and supported that via history. Which is just true. Look up “Quartering Acts”, you ignorant phuc.

      You lied your ass off here; witness “I’ve always been interested in Supreme Court rulings. The Supremes used privacy to anchor liberal (I’d say libertarian, but that’s a quibble) rulings on contraception, abortion, and homosexual rights.” Yet you’ve NEVER read Griswald?!?!? You are a blatant fraud.

      AND you are no more a “pragmatist” than the other trolls who come here trying to sell that bag of shit.

      But, thanks for your help in outing you, you POS.