It only took 229 years, but the Third Amendment is finally having its Moment.
The Third Amendment states, “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.”
Typically in my Introduction to American Politics class, the Third Amendment only gets only maybe about 2 minutes. This amendment protects citizens from having to house soldiers without their permission.
I tell students the Third came about out of the colonists’ experiences and precedent with the English, that it is the least litigated amendment (never mentioned by the Supreme Court!), and that it is only probably partially incorporated from the 2nd circuit. And then normally, we keep it moving.
It has been considered so unremarkable that it has been subject to humorous takes from both SNL and The Onion. Twitter accounts like @jimamendments have done their best to elevate the amendment with meme after meme about the Third Amendment. But suddenly, the Third Amendment is having its moment.
Last night, Senator Mike Lee of Utah tweeted: “Just heard that Mayor Bowser is kicking the Utah National Guard out of all DC hotels tomorrow. More than 1200 troops from 10 states are being evicted. This is unacceptable.”
With the presence of the National Guard now (and the possibility of more military presence, suggested both by the rhetoric of President Trump and the New York Times’ op-ed from Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas), there is a sudden interest in the Third Amendment. If you look at Google Trends — this has set off a flurry of folks googling the Third Amendment.
Washington D.C. Mayer Muriel Bowser wants out of state troops out of her city. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to President Trump seeking answers about the deployment of unidentified law enforcement and increased militarization against peaceful protestors in the nation’s capital.
Questions for my students and all to be thinking about and watching: Can the Mayor or Pelosi invoke the Third Amendment? Or is it up to the owners of the hotels? Do hotels qualify as homes? And is James Madison finally saying “told you so”?