third amendment

Third Amendment to the United States Constitution

The Third Amendment to the United States Constitution (Amendment III) is a part of the United States Bill of Rights. It was introduced by James Madison on September 5, 1789, and then three-fourths of the states ratified this as well as 9 others on December 15, 1791. It prohibits, in peacetime, the quartering of soldiers (military personnel) in private homes without the owner's consent. It makes quartering legally permissible in wartime only, but only in accordance with law. The Founding Fathers' intention in writing this amendment was to prevent the recurrence of soldiers being quartered in private property as was done in Colonial America by the British military under the Quartering Act before the American Revolution (1775/6).


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 original text of the Constitution generated some opposition on the ground that it did not include adequate guarantees of civil liberties. In response, the Third Amendment, along with several amendments including the ten that now form the Bill of Rights, was proposed by Congress on September 25, 1789. The process of adoption by ratification by three-/fourths of the states was completed on December 15, 1791.

Case law

The Third Amendment is among the least cited sections of the U.S. Constitution. A product of its times, its relevance has greatly declined since the American Revolution. In particular, military operations occurring on U.S. territory have been increasingly infrequent, especially after the Civil War in the 19th century.

The right to privacy

Some Supreme Court justices have occasionally invoked the Third Amendment when seeking to establish a base for the right to privacy. For example, the Opinion of the Court by Justice William O. Douglas in Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 484 (1965) cites the amendment as implying a belief that an individual's home should be free from agents of the state.

Directly relevant case law

One of the few times a Federal court was asked to invalidate a law or action on Third Amendment grounds was in Engblom v. Carey, . In 1979, prison officials in New York organized a strike; they were evicted from their prison facility residences, which were reassigned to members of the National Guard who had temporarily taken their place as prison guards. The prison officials' Third Amendment claims were summarily rejected on the ground that they were not owners of the residences. On appeal, however, the term "owner" was construed more broadly. Since there existed no Supreme Court precedents on the Third Amendment, the Circuit Court of Appeals relied on rulings relating to the Fourth Amendment, as both Amendments relate to what are considered privacy rights (the former to quartering, the latter to search and seizure). It was noted that the Supreme Court had rejected notions that Fourth Amendment protections extended only to owners of property, that Court having ruled that "one who owns or lawfully possesses or controls property will in all likelihood have a legitimate expectation of privacy." Similarly, the Circuit Court extended Third Amendment protections to tenants.

In an earlier case, United States v. Valenzuela, , the defendant asked that a federal rent-control law be struck down on the grounds that it was "the incubator and hatchery of swarms of bureaucrats to be quartered as storm troopers upon the people in violation of Amendment III of the United States Constitution." The court declined his request.

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