Why Was the Third Amendment Created?

The Third Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which forbids the government to quarter soldiers in houses without the permission of the owners, was created to protect the privacy of citizens. It was prompted by colonial resentment of the common British practice of quartering troops in American homes.

Although British authorities forcibly quartered troops in colonial dwellings during the French and Indian War from 1754 to 1763, the first official British Quartering Act was in 1765. It authorized the housing of British troops in American barracks, public houses, inns, stables and other structures. The Quartering Act of 1774 expanded on the policy, allowing British troops to also occupy private homes. It was one of the so-called Intolerable Acts that incited the colonists to open rebellion. In the U.S. Declaration of Independence, British quartering of troops was specifically listed as one of the grievances prompting the split with Great Britain.

When the founding fathers drafted the Constitution, many saw the need for a Bill of Rights protecting the liberties of private citizens to be attached to the original document. The Third Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights. It is one of the least controversial of constitutional amendments and is rarely cited in Supreme Court decisions, although it is sometimes invoked indirectly as a justification of the right to privacy.