Friday, March 3, 2017

A Review of Constitutional Amendments (part 3)

One of the hard lessons from English rule prior to the revolution was the King’s and the Parliament’s decision to save a few quid, and take over private residences to quarter their forces.  Where this occurred, it clearly demonstrated to the average citizen the English were an occupying force the rights of the citizen were clearly secondary to the desires of the crown.  From this lesson came the third Amendment.

“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.”

 When the constitution was being written, many considered the lack of a bill of rights as a reason to reject the new document.  One of the original authors of the Constitution, James Madison, eventually came to believe in the value of such amendments and submitted a proposal to the House to add 17 amendments to the basic document, the senate reduced this number to 12 by combining some and rejecting others.  When submitted to the states the first two amendments were not approved.  One became a part of history, while the other took two hundred years before it was finally ratified.  The original first amendment dealt with the size of the House of Representatives, and the original second amendment dealt with congressional pay, and was eventually ratified as the 27th amendment.  Which brings us now to the issue of quartering troops in private residences.
This is the least litigated of all the amendments, but why is it even included?  At the creation of the U.S. the general sense was a concern about a large standing army and this was one of the provisions intended to make that large standing army unattractive and unaffordable.  It was, therefore, simply a restatement of what many of the states had made a standard right in their state constitutions.  It did not pave new ground, it met a common expectation of the day.

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