Conservative Perspectives on the Third Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Protection from Forced Quartering

The Third Amendment to the Constitution was originally meant to protect Americans from being forced to house soldiers in peacetime. In recent years, though, the law has been interpreted to protect Americans' right to privacy. Magictorch/Getty Images
"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."

The Third Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects American citizens from being forced to use their homes to board members of the U.S. military. The amendment does not extend the same privilege to American citizens during times of war. The law's relevance diminished greatly after the American Civil War and is largely archaic in the 21st Century.
During the American Revolution, colonists were frequently forced to house British soldiers on their property during times of war and peace. Very often, these colonists would find themselves being forced to put up and feed entire regiments of the Crown, and the soldiers weren't always good house guests. Article III of the Bill of Rights was created to do away with the troublesome British law, known as the Quartering Act, that permitted this practice.

In the 20th century, however, members of the U.S. Supreme Court have referenced the Third Amendment in privacy rights cases. In most recent cases, however, the Ninth and Fourteenth amendments are cited more frequently and are more applicable to defending Americans' right to privacy.

Although it is occasionally the subject of far-fetched lawsuits, there have been a few cases in which the Third Amendment played an important role. For that reason, the amendment has never suffered a significant challenge for repeal.
For conservatives generally, and cultural conservatives in particular, the Third Amendment serves as a reminder of this nation's early struggles against oppression.