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hi this is Kim from Khan Academy and today I'm learning more about the 3rd amendments to the US Constitution which states that 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 this amendment clearly draws its inspiration from the quartering acts that caused a great deal of tension between the American colonies in Great Britain leading up to the American Revolution but does it have any relevance to our lives today to learn more I sought out the help of two experts Jay Wexler is a professor of law at Boston University School of Law specializing in constitutional law and the Supreme Court glenn reynolds is the Beauchamp Brogan distinguished professor of law at the University of Tennessee College of Law so professor Reynolds why did the framers feel it was necessary to put this amendment in the Bill of Rights well we don't think of a quartering of troops in people's homes is a very big issue these days and of course some people would say that's because the 3rd amendments worked perfectly if only the rest of the Bill of Rights worked so well but it was a big issue for the framers because it had happened a lot to the framers the English Civil Wars of the 17th century were more recent history and they were their attitudes were very much shaped by that and the Stuart Kings in particular used quartering of troops as a way to punish towns and areas that they didn't like the soldiers back then were basically jail sweepings they they had a tendency to steal and to rape and to get into fights even with the people they were quartered with so it was to have troops quartered upon a town was a way of sort of mass punishment and that made the English rather unhappy and after the Glorious Revolution they banned the practice in England but they did not ban it in the colony the King had quartered troops in private homes in the colonies in what became the United States for a long time before the Revolution since at least 1670 and as it's easy to imagine this caused a lot of tension between the home owners and the colonies and British troops and that had got even worse as we found ourselves in the French and Indian War in the 1750s and 1760s because nobody wants the government to put troops in their house the house is the place where where people live their most private lives and to have the government come in and say here the soldiers are gonna live here with you now is something that understandably the colonists were very worried about and didn't like very much so things got worse in the 1760s when England the passed the first quartering act which basically required the colonies had to provide barracks for the Kings troops and there weren't barracks than the soldiers were authorized to live in Inns and ale houses and houses this is right from the act itself selling rum and brandy and strong water and then if there weren't enough of those around they could live in one of private buildings uninhabited houses and barns and things like this and that that requirement resulted in part in the Stamp Act of 1765 which led then to the tea party which everybody knows about and the tea party really made the King angry after that the the King pass or the Parliament passed the second quarter in 1774 which required colonists to allow the Kings troops to live in their homes which was of course something that the colonists absolutely couldn't stand so when we got our independence it was one of the the most important goals of the framers to make sure that this kind of thing could not happen so what was so problematic about the possibility of having a soldier quartered in your home or multiple soldiers quartered in your home well so it's almost no particular like having a houseguest in general but you know they're not houseguests I mean the problem is you know troops back then were not like you know you think of soldiers today in the American army it's hard to get into the army you know people people try to get in the army and they're told go away your grades aren't good enough and you're not smart enough and if you have a criminal record they don't want you it wasn't like that back then warfare was was bloody and awful the troops stood in masses and hundred yards from each other and blasted away with these brown best muskets actually the most common injury then was when pieces of the soldier next to you were driven into you jawbone and stuff like that so it was pretty nasty in the discipline that it took to make people do that was pretty harsh and it wasn't very appealing to the better sort so literally a lot of these soldiers were people who were sent there straight from jail so they were not very nice people to have living in your house and they didn't have a very good attitude when they did I think they were widely viewed as being cruel as being unfriendly maybe even drunk a lot but but it was certainly not the case that they were that they were you know making their own beds and cleaning up after their after their dinner and such like that so it was it was they were not guests they were people who were living in the in the houses taking liberties you know any way they wanted and making a basically a nuisance of themselves for sure so I mean imagine if some soldier you didn't know and you didn't invite into your house was all of a sudden staying in your living room and then multiply that by however many soldiers it might be ten who knows living in your living room while you're trying to carry out the daily tasks of your life and talking with your children and making plans about dinner and can you imagine how how offensive that would be and how problematic that would be to have this the government's troops hanging out in your living room it would be pretty awful so it's no surprise that the framers I think objected to this and and put this kind of this amendment into the Constitution so do you think that the quartering act of 1774 do you think that was the straw that broke the camel's back in the American Revolution was it that living with soldiers was just so noxious that it propelled the colonists over the edge into the revolution well you know there were a lot of straws that broke the camel's back so it's hard to say which one but I think one of the things that the colonists hated about it was that they were being subjected to a rule that didn't apply in England and you know one of the things they revolted for remember was they thought they'd been deprived of what they called the rights of Englishmen and this was just another example of the crowd feeling free to do things in the colonies that it wouldn't do it and that sent a signal to the colonists that you're not as important you're not full-blown citizens we don't care about you as much and you don't have the same rights and I think that was what was intolerable about it so this seems like an amendment that has this very specific historical background but how does this kind of play forward into the future was there any danger that there might be later quartering of soldiers after the framing of the Constitution well there was always the risk there was always the risk that even in the independent United States that the government might at some point require homeowners to put up soldiers and in fact there's some evidence that during the Civil War this happened I think the evidence is a little foggy but there's certainly a suggestion in the literature that the Union government required home owners to put up Union troops and so it could have been a problem it it's not something that has that has in fact turned into a huge issue over time which might say something about how successful the third amendment has been in our history but it was always a risk I think it was never far from the minds of the framers this possibility that the government might decide to put to put its soldiers into people's private homes I think at the time of the Revolution and when the framers were putting together the Constitution they had a real fear of standing armies right they didn't want a standing army in the United States in fact there wasn't one in the United States at all a professional army until after the Civil War I believe and now we see a standing army a very large standing army of the United States as being pretty normal how do you think the 3rd amendment shows how our ideas of standing armies have changed over time you know one historian said that our framers had an almost panic fear of standing armies and that was based again on the history of the English Civil Wars in the 17th century we're standing armies you know the the tradition was the king would disarm people he didn't like and then used the army against them and that was seen as very bad standing armies were seen as somebody who was loyal to who paid them not to the country I think our army has had a different trajectory I mean really we didn't have a large standing here in the United States on a regular basis until after World War two so I think we're just less afraid of it because our army has been more professional maybe because we feel like the Army is more loyal to citizens than it is to who pays it or maybe because we've just lost perhaps a vital edge of paranoia that the framers had has there ever been a Supreme Court case that ruled based on the third amendment there's a single Federal Court of Appeals case called Engblom against Carrie where the Federal Court of Appeals applied the third amendment in a New York prison riot case where guards were pushed out of their barracks and National Guardsmen were put in but the Supreme Court's never done it but the Supreme Court has relied on the third of it in fact one of the most famous cases of the second half of the 20th century from the Warren court was Griswold against Connecticut that was actually a case striking down laws in its birth control which was one of the forerunners to Roe versus Wade and in that case the Supreme Court was trying to figure out if the Constitution encompassed us a right to privacy and justice Douglas wrote this opinion which which said that there were kind of penumbra's or emanations from a variety of the amendments in the Bill of Rights the Fourth Amendment the First Amendment and importantly the third amendment that suggested that the Constitution does protect privacy rights to some degree that was kind of the high point for the third amendment in Supreme Court history and even in the cases that followed the Griswold decision which which found for example the right to an abortion etc the court did not rely on that third Amendment penumbra theory so it was a one case the Supreme Court cited the third amendment as being the source of a sort of enigmatic privacy right other than that the Supreme Court has really not touched the third amendment ever so there's kind of a suggestion of the right to privacy that goes along with the third and also perhaps the fourth amendment do you think that's the way that the third amendment is perhaps most relevant to us now well it could be I mean there's been some thought that there's been some Law Review articles and other speculation of this that for example when the government installed spyware on your computer at home that's the equivalent of quartering troops in your house because somebody is inside your house spying on you and breaking your privacy sort of like having to have a soldier at home no court tell that as far as I know but it's not crazy and there have been a few other cases more on point where people claim that when police SWAT teams took over their homes to look down on the neighbors and such that that was troop quartering but courts so far said that's not the same thing since they're not actually sleeping there one possibility is to say hey the third amendment really plays no role it's the courts don't talk about it nobody really knows much about what it says and so it's really not important on the other hand you could argue and I suggest that this is probably a plausible argument that in fact the third amendment has done a lot the fact that you don't see cases about quartering of troops may very well indicate how well the third amendment is serving it so the third amendment just is is is quiet but that's because it's doing its job so well and that nobody comes and tries to quarter troops in there in anybody's houses and if they did they would immediately lose so you could argue a from that perspective that the third amendment is one of the most powerful and well working amendments that we have in the Constitution one thing that's interesting about constitutional history is that sometimes we see parts of the Constitution that have been dormant for a really long time all of a sudden pop up into consciousness either because the courts have start reading them differently or because the facts of the world change and so all of a sudden that amendment or other constitutional provision seems relevant and that could potentially happen with the third amendment and what I would cite here are two developments in the world one is that the we've see these days the police becoming more militarized and so it looks kind of like the police are soldiers in a way when they come all arms and they're in armored vehicles and such and the second phenomenon is under the increased surveillance that we're seeing from the government into private and to private phone conversations private computer files and things like that and so it's possible that we a court at some point might think that the the government is violating if not this the letter this then the spirit of the third amendment by basically engaging in the twenty-first century version of quartering by monitoring people's people's communications within the home in a kind of militaristic way so we've learned that the third amendment prevents the government from quartering soldiers in the homes of American citizens and that in fact it does such a good job the Supreme Court has only made one decision using the third amendment as its primary basis but the third amendment implied guarantee of privacy in the home may come to be more important as we debate the limits of government surveillance of our computers to learn more about the third amendment visit the National Constitution Center's interactive Constitution and Khan Academy's resources on US government and politics