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No One Expects the Third Amendment

Photo credit: Martha Raddatz

It wasn’t long ago the president called for “liberating” states that had been on lockdown in response to the contagious coronavirus, encouraging people to exercise their First Amendment rights and push back against what he considered government overreach.  But now that “we the people” are taking to the streets to protest police brutality in unprecedented numbers he has sent in the military to “reestablish law and order” in the nation’s capital. 

But he didn’t expect the Third Amendment!

With 4,500 National Guard troops from different states deployed to Washington, DC as part of the government’s crackdown on protesters, and armed vehicles seen cruising down Pennsylvania Avenue, DC’s mayor invoked the spirit of the constitution’s Third Amendment to remove military troops from the city. “The very first thing is we want the military — we want troops from out-of-state out of Washington, DC”, Mayor Muriel Bowser said on June 4

“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 often-overlooked amendment reflects the will of early Americans who vehemently opposed the idea of housing armed soldiers in their homes and cities, as they did want to offer respite to those that oppressed them. 

For most Americans the Third Amendment is a relic from the Revolutionary War that one reads about in history class but largely perceived as irrelevant in the 21st century. Of course, that was before the president and his out of control Attorney General unleashed thousands of military soldiers and unmarked federal law enforcement officers, dressed in riot gear, to suppress public protest near the White House.  

As masked soldiers on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial look like an occupying force and the president asks his cabinet about using tanks against protestors, state and local leaders must reject the militarization of our streets… even if it takes dusting off the Third Amendment to protect our rights enshrined in the First.