Third Amendment needs our love, too

Published on Thursday, 11 July 2013 00:26 - Written by

When’s the last time the poor Third Amendment got some love? We’re all about the Second Amendment, of course — gun control laws have been the focus of Washington in recent months, and Tyler gun owners held an “open carry” rally just last week.

NSA leaker Edward Snowden has brought the Fourth Amendment to our attention, as it appears the government has been snooping on us without the warrants demanded by the Bill of Rights.

And IRS official Lois Lerner recently invoked the Fifth Amendment (or not) as she refused to testify about the scandal involving the targeting of conservative groups.

But how about the Third Amendment — you know, the one about no quartering of troops?

It seems one family is standing up for this nearly forgotten amendment.

“A family is suing the city of Henderson, Nevada for violating their Third Amendment rights — the constitutional prohibition against quartering soldiers in a private home during peacetime without the owner’s consent,” the Daily Caller reports. “The Mitchell family says that’s essentially what happened when Henderson police allegedly arrested them for refusing to let officers use their homes for a ‘tactical advantage’ in a domestic violence investigation into a neighbor, according to an official complaint.”

In 2011, police contacted Anthony Mitchell to ask to use his home so they could conduct surveillance on his neighbor. Mitchell didn’t want to get involved, so he said no. It seems the police weren’t actually asking.

“First officers smashed open’ Mitchell’s door with a ‘metal ram’ after he did not immediately open it himself,” the Daily Caller explains, quoting from court documents. “He then ‘curled on the floor of his living room, with his hands over his face,’ as the police shot Mitchell and his dog — which the family claims did not attack the officers — several times with ‘pepperball’ rounds.”

Mitchell and his father were both arrested, though the charges were later dropped.

University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds says the family may have a case — largely due to the militarization of our civilian police forces.

“Should the Third Amendment have something to say about this?” Reynolds wrote for USA Today. “Well, it speaks only to ‘troops,’ not police — but then, professional police in the modern sense hadn’t been invented at the time of the framing. And given the extreme militarization of police nowadays — with Nomex coveralls, body armor, AR-15 rifles, grenades, armored vehicles, etc. … maybe that’s a distinction without a difference anyway. Armed minions of the state seizing your home by force seem close enough to ‘troops’ for me.”

Reynolds contends that the Third Amendment was really about privacy.

“Personally, I think we need to return to the sense of one’s home as a castle, a ‘fundamental right of privacy’ that the Third Amendment was intended to protect,” he writes.

Taken together, the amendments that make up the Bill of Rights is a revolutionary expression of the limits of government — and the presumption of freedom. Each amendment is worth preserving, and worthy of a little love.