(Episode 17) Quartering vs. Quartering: The Third Amendment

Quick challenge: without Googling it or phoning a friend (or scrolling down), can you remember what the Third Amendment to the Constitution protects? We'll give you a second. It's obscure-ish.

Let's see if this rings any bells: "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 prescribed by law."

That's right - we've reached the least-litigated Amendment in the Bill of Rights: the right not to have soldiers take up residence in your home without your consent. The Supreme Court has never decided a case on Third Amendment grounds. This leads us to our next question: who cares?

Although this is a pretty straight-forward right, and the historical significance of it is probably pretty intuitive, the Third Amendment was of "great and palpable significance" back in the day. The colonists had a deep dislike of standing armies, especially when the government forced homeowners to allow soldiers to shack up in their houses, eat their food, and otherwise overstay what little welcome they had. This was especially true when George III and Parliament issued the Coercive Acts against the colonies, which included the Quartering Act in 1774 - a law that explicitly required the colonists to pay "for diet and small beer, cyder, or rum mixed with water" for the soldiers. This round's on you, Colonists.

How does this Amendment apply in the modern day? What is a "soldier" under the Third Amendment? And what if you rent instead of owning your home? The best direction we get doesn't come from the Supreme Court, but from the Second Circuit in a case called Engblom v. Carey in 1982. Otherwise, most the rights in this Amendment rarely get raised, and even when they do, courts are hesitant to decide cases on these grounds.

Join us for a discussion of quartering, quartering (yes - we meant to say it twice), semantic satiation, and whether or not the government can attempt to commandeer your beer.