Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Third Amendment

It's the one protecting citizens against being forced to play involuntary host to soldiers:

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.

Quartering and the presence of standing armies was one of the biggest grievances the colonists had against the British. They didn't like it at all. Thus, when they were writing the Constitution and thinking about rights, the right not to be forced to give over your home and possessions to soldiers was considered essential. Thus, the Third Amendment:

It prevents the quartering of soldiers in homes without the owner's consent in time of peace. In time of war, quartering may occur, but only in accordance with law. The Founding Fathers' intention in writing this amendment was to prevent the recurrence of soldiers living in citizens' houses as British soldiers did under the Quartering Act before the American Revolution.

The Third Amendment is almost never cited, and is largely forgotten today, for obvious reasons: No standing armies anymore. Not since 1789. For the past 200 years, Americans have not had to worry about quartering soldiers in their homes. We've forgotten what it feels like.

The Marines call it a necessary evil -- taking over houses and buildings for military use. For the Iraqis who become unwilling hosts, it can be anything from a mild inconvenience to a disruption that tears apart lives.

In a recent offensive in Haditha, the headmaster of one school where Marines were based pressed them for a departure date so he could resume classes. At another school, Marines fortified the building with blast walls and sandbags for long-term use.

A trembling woman wept when Marines tried to requisition her home to set up an observation post with a view of a nearby road where a bomb had been planted. The Marines quickly left, using her neighbor's rooftop instead.

"We try to be respectful and not destroy anything in their homes," said Cpl. Joseph Dudley of Los Gatos, Calif., with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. "We just borrow their house and try to complete our missions."

Well, that's nice. But the owners of those homes still have no choice about quartering the soldiers.

So here's the question: Is freedom compatible with being forced to surrender your home to soldiers of a foreign occupying army? Can a country be called "liberated" or "free" if it doesn't have a Third Amendment?


Steeph said...

Like "don't do to others what you don't like to be done to yourself".

Good connection made!

Kathy said...

Thanks, Steeph!

Steeph said...

I think you deserve a bit more exposure on this post. I tried to tickle some well known blogs. See what happens.

Kathy said...


Thanks again. :)

How do you tickle a post?