Is the Third Amendment Still Relevant in 2023?

by LegalFix
Posted: April 21, 2023
Constitutional law

In American law, Constitutional Amendments are one of the most fundamental ways laws adapt and evolve to meet the country’s needs. Equal voting rights, presidential term limits, and the abolition of slavery were all accomplished with Amendments to our Constitution. But while some, like the Second and Fourteenth Amendments, have been making headlines, the Third Amendment is often overlooked today. 

What Is the Third Amendment?

The Third Amendment to the US Constitution states that “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.” 

Unlike other items listed in the Bill of Rights, the Third Amendment was specifically aimed at protecting colonialists from being forced to house British soldiers as they had been forced to do in the decades preceding the Revolutionary War. Today, however, without Redcoats demanding to sleep in your home, is the Third Amendment still relevant? 

Important Third Amendment Cases

Because US military personnel are housed in barracks, there have not been many cases involving the Third Amendment since the Bill of Rights became law. Let’s look at two notable times when Third Amendment litigation was brought and how they impact us today. 

Engblom v. Carey

Perhaps the most significant ruling regarding the Third Amendment came in 1982 from the landmark case Engblom v. Carey (677 F.2d 957) 

In 1979, the New York National Guard was deployed to act as prison guards during a strike at the Mid-Orange Correctional Facility. During the strike, National Guard soldiers were quartered in a staff residence outside of the prison grounds. Plaintiff-appellants Marianne Engblom and Charles Palmer (who were corrections officers) were evicted to house the Guardsmen, leading them to file suit. 

While the court ruled against the plaintiffs 2-1, the case resulted in three interpretations of the Amendment. Firstly, the court did find that national guardsmen were considered soldiers, meaning that the Third Amendment’s protections could apply to state as well as federal troops. Likewise, the ruling deemed that the Amendment was incorporated, meaning that it could extend to state governments. 

The third significant aspect of this ruling determined that the protections of the Third Amendment apply beyond fee simple homeownership to any tenant with general control over a property. 

Mitchell v. City of Henderson

A much more recent case involving Third Amendment rights came in 2017. In the case Mitchell v. City of Henderson (2:13-cv-01154-APG-CWH), plaintiffs alleged that police officers had forced them to leave their home in order to gain a tactical advantage in handling a nearby situation. Like in Engblom v. Carey, the court ruled in the defendant’s favor because first, police officers aren’t considered soldiers, and second, officers were in the home for less than 24 hours, which does not legally constitute “quartering.” 

The Third Amendment in 2023

Chances are, you’re not likely to encounter a situation where you’ll need to exercise your Third Amendment rights anytime soon. Still, cases like those mentioned above are essential in determining how the laws are enforced. 

When courts make rulings today, legal precedent is one of the most influential factors in understanding laws. This means that if you were to make a Third Amendment claim today, there’s a chance the judges would cite these or other similar cases in your decision. 

Know Your Constitutional Rights with LegalFix

Whether you want to understand your Constitutional rights or just want to learn more about our legal system, LegalFix is your go-to source for free legal information. You can find helpful articles and use the free search and information tools to better understand the state and federal laws that affect you. Just visit to find all this content — and check back often for more valuable legal products and services coming soon.