What is the 3rd Amendment?


The Third Amendment to the United States Constitution is a part of Bill of Rights, ratified in 1791, that states any forced quartering of soldiers in private homes is prohibited unless prescribed by wartime law.


The quartering act forbids entering private homes by soldiers without the owner’s consent in time of peace. It states the necessity of laws of war to be enforced in order to change the conditions set by the Amendment. It is the least controversial modification to US Constitution till this day, with the most heated debate surrounding the Second Amendment.

The Amendment was first introduced by James Madison to the Congress in 1789, packaged with another nine amendments, as a belated response to Quartering acts that were being adopted by England since 1765. Those resulted in letting British soldiers use private homes or any other establishments no matter if privately owned, for housing, if they deemed lodging provided by colonial authorities insufficient. The monopoly expected the colonies to cover all the housing expenses of the British army stationed on their territory, as the standing army was essential to protect King’s dominions in America. The legislation enforced by the British parliament back then was named Intolerable (or Coercive) Acts, as it did in no small part contribute to pushing British colonies towards revolution.

Constitutional Amendment #3 was adopted in 1791 as a part of the Bill of Rights, though it had to resist the pressures of anti-Federalists. They were concerned with the fact that the Constitution they were about to ratify did not clearly state civil rights and liberties of the country’s future citizens. It was also questionable that the law gave too much space for Congress to expand its powers further. That, consequently, could lead to victimization of citizens by a body of legislative power that was not subject to any restrictions. Regarding the 3rd Amendment itself, anti-Federalists also believed the fear of standing army spread among the population could be used for brainwashing and passing on oppressive legislation.

Still, understanding the historical context is of crucial importance to get the right idea of the revisions Madison tried to pass through Congress in 1789. Quartering of soldiers, seen from the perspective of that time, was about protecting citizens from the government’s infringement upon their rights and liberties. It is no coincidence that the 3rd Amendment has the least number of double interpretations and court cases out of 27 of them existing nowadays. Many generations of Americans owe this to the Founding Fathers, who managed to include guarantees of property protection in the main law of the country and considered it to be one of the essential tasks of the future country, which had to form on the colonial heritage of Great Britain.

The intrusion of private property seems an undisputed violation of the rights of a citizen nowadays. At the end of the day, it was the unambiguity of this Amendment that allowed Federalists and anti-Federalists to present a united front for its adoption.

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