Third Amendment: prohibits the government from using private homes as quarters for soldiers without the consent of the owners. The only existing case law regarding this amendment is a lower court decision in the case of Engblom v. Carey.
Engblom v. Carey, 677 F.2d 957, was a 1982 court case decided by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. It is the only significant court decision based on a direct challenge under the Third Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The case was initiated by a 1979 strike by New York State correction officers. While the officers were on strike, some of their duties were performed by National Guardsmen who were activated. At Mid-Orange Correctional Facility (and other facilities) striking employees were evicted from employee housing which was then used to house some of the National Guard. Two of the evicted officers at Mid-Orange C.F., Marianne E. Engblom and Charles E. Palmer, subsequently filed suit against the state of New York and its governor, Hugh L. Carey.
The decision, rendered on May 3, 1982, established that the National Guardsmen legally qualify as soldiers under the Third Amendment, that the amendment applies to state as well as federal authorities, and that the protection of this amendment extends beyond home owners. The majority stated that the officers' occupancy in the rooms was covered under the legal rules of "tenancy" and was protected under the Third Amendment. There was a minority dissent which stated the officers' occupancy was covered under the lesser protection of employee housing and held that the special circumstances of residency on prison grounds superseded Third Amendment protection. The case was remanded to district court where it was decided in the defendants' favor, due to the principle that as agents of the state, the defendants were covered by a qualified immunity unless they were knowingly acting illegally. In the absence of previous precedents on this issue, the standard of knowing illegality was not met.
The Third Amendment in its prohibition against the quartering of soldiers "in any house" in time of peace without the consent of the owner is another facet of that privacy.
The Third Amendment is always the toughest to discuss in its relevance to today. Just as we must recognize that the "well regulated militia" line in the Second Amendment referred to a citizen’s militia when it was written in the late 18th century, we must consider the Third Amendment in proper historical context.
The American colonists had just fought a revolution against Britain, the world’s superpower that had imposed its will on much of the planet’s peoples. The Third Amendment was written in memory of the Quartering Act of 1765, which compelled American colonists not only to give up sovereignty within their own homes, but also to pay taxes to build housing for British soldiers. After winning the Revolution, the Founding Fathers wanted to prevent the new American government from coercing its people into providing for its imperial and colonial ambitions the way Britain had done.
As the U.S. government levies taxes on Americans – and even on Iraqis – to pay its soldiers fighting for the global quasi-Trotskyite democratic revolution that the War on Terrorism has become, Americans should judge for themselves if the Bush administration has disgraced the spirit of the Third Amendment. The manner in which the U.S. military treats the houses of Iraqis has hardly been a manner "prescribed by law." We can only hope that the U.S. government does not take the final steps in defying the letter, as well as the spirit, of the Third Amendment, by giving new meaning to "bringing the soldiers home."