Third Amendment

The Third Amendment is intended to protect citizens’ rights to the ownership and use of their property without intrusion by the government.

1791Bill Of Rights Ratified

By Dec. 15, three-fourths of the states ratify the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. The amendments are meant to secure individual liberties and to maintain the balance of power between the federal government and the states. The 10th Amendment states that powers not delegated to the federal government belong to the states. Although not specified in the 10th Amendment, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in years to come that laws affecting family relations, commerce within a state’s borders, and local law enforcement fall within state authority.

1791Third Amendment Ratified

The Third Amendment is ratified as part of the Bill of Rights. It’s intended to protect citizens’ rights to ownership and use of their property without government instrusion.

1965Third Amendment Cited As Evidence Of Privacy Right

In Griswold v. Connecticut, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the Constitution gives individuals a “zone of privacy” that includes the right of married couples to use birth control. The Court lists various constitutional provisions, including the Third, the Fourth and the Ninth Amendments, as evidence that the framers intended such a “zone of privacy” to exist.

1982Prison Guards Cannot Be Evicted During Strike

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Engblom v. Carey rules in favor of guards at a New York state prison, who had been evicted from their employee residences on the prison grounds while they were on strike in order to provide housing for National Guardsmen, who were called in to keep the peace. The court rules that the Guardsmen were equivalent to “soldiers” and the prison guards enjoyed a right to privacy in their residences, even though the prison owned those residences.

2001Third Amendment Does Not Apply To Airspace Over Property

In unrelated decisions, two federal courts rule that the Third Amendment will not prevent the government from using the airspace over private homeowners’ property without permission. In Custer County Action Association v. Garvey, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit rejects a claim by homeowners that the Air National Guard’s flying planes through airspace above the homeowners’ property during peacetime could be considered an unconstitutional “quartering” of soldiers. The Court rules that, unlike an individual’s right to expect privacy from government intrusion into his or her own home, it is not reasonable to expect the airspace above one’s home to be free from flights by government planes. A federal district court in Texas reaches the same conclusion in Welch v. United States Air Force, involving bombing training flights conducted by the Air Force over private homeowners’ property.

2004Third Amendment Cited As Evidence That Government’s Power Limited

In Padilla v. Rumsfeld, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit cites the Third Amendment in support of its opinion that President George W. Bush lacks the authority to keep accused terrorist Jose Padilla in confinement indefinitely. The Court reasons that although the Constitution has a few specific grants of special authority to Congress that allow it to override individual rights – and the Third Amendment’s provision for housing soldiers in private homes during war is one such example – the Constitution makes no such grants of authority to the president. Consequently, the Court rules, the president is not allowed to take action to deprive an individual of his liberty, even in a time of war.