Amendment Three: Quartering 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.


Wait a second. Quartering soldiers? Didn’t that just happen during the Colonial Era? What’s the deal? Why would this be an amendment to the Constitution? Is it even a big issue any more?

If you are one of the many who would pose the aforementioned questions, this article is for you. Yes, the third amendment is in fact a direct reaction to the Quartering Acts, which were passed by Parliament in 1765 during the Colonial Era. In fact, the Framers of the Constitution and the representatives who took part in the first Congress were worried about just this very thing happening again. Therefore, when Congress convened for the first time to determine what rights were fundamental for us as American citizens, one of their top priorities was to ensure that Americans would not ever have to quarter troops against their will.

The third amendment is one of the least disputed and least utilized amendments in history. As a matter of fact, after this amendment passed, it would be nearly 200 years until a court had to reference this amendment in order to make a decision.

Engblom v. Carey (1982)

The Bill of Rights defines our rights as citizens of the United States of America, and the amendments (I-X), which constitute the Bill of Rights, are often used in court cases to support the claims of the accuser or the accused. The Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791, and it was not used as a key argument in court until the year 1982.

In 1979, there was a strike among prison guards in New York State. While the prison guards were on strike, the government needed someone to take their places in the prisons, so National Guard troops were called in to secure the posts of the striking prison guards. During this time, the prison guards had to vacate their on-site employee housing in order to make room for National Guardsmen who were temporarily filling their positions. According to the ruling, the fact that the housing was provided by the employer and that the people involved were aiding government, the housing in question was not covered under the third amendment because it was not owned by the prison guards.

Application: How does/could this amendment impact my real life?


Because of the third amendment, we will never have to house troops in our homes in times of peace. Lucky us!

Also lucky for us, this is not an issue that commonly comes up in America today, or in America for the past two hundred years. What it does mean for us it that we will never have to house soldiers in our homes. Good thing! Who wants to share their home with a stranger who smells and who eats more than your big brother?


"Exploring Constitutional Conflicts: Constitutional Protection for the Home." UMKC Law School. University of Missouri Kansas City. 23 Nov 2007 <http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/homeiscastle.htm>.

"In Pictures: Fiji coup countdown." BBC News. 1 December 2006. 23 Nov 2007 <news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_pictures/6160649.stm>.

"Quartering Acts." Wikipedia. 23 November 2007. 23 Nov 2007 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quartering_Act>.