Wartime Quartering With and Without Legislative Authorization

by William Gill

The first thing most scholars note about the Third Amendment to the Federal Constitution, which limits the government’s authority to require citizens to quarter soldiers in their homes, is its relative obscurity. In contrast to the surrounding provisions of the Bill of Rights—superstars like the First, Second, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments—the Third Amendment has been directly applied in a serious fashion in only one judicial decision, and its role in Supreme Court jurisprudence has been limited to illustrating the importance of concepts such as the right to privacy and the separation of military and civilian affairs. Depending on whom you ask, the infrequent application of the Third Amendment may be attributed either to its unequalled effectiveness in achieving its purpose or to its obsolescence in the face of changes in technology and military operations.

 

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