Saturday, January 19, 2013
Okay, One More Thing: The Lowly Third Amendment
I like Bill Maher. He's a pompous ass, a misogynist, and lots of other things, but he usually makes me laugh and actually has some insightful things to say. He's wrong about the 2nd Amendment being anachronistic. And he's even more wrong about the 3rd (which I, being a lover of underdogs, have decided to adopt).
[S]pecific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance. See Poe v. Ullman, 367 U.S. 497, 516-522 (dissenting opinion). Various guarantees create zones of privacy. The right of association contained in the penumbra of the First Amendment is one, as we have seen. The Third Amendment, in its prohibition against the quartering of soldiers "in any house" in time of peace without the consent of the owner, is another facet of that privacy. The Fourth Amendment explicitly affirms the "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." The Fifth Amendment, in its Self-Incrimination Clause, enables the citizen to create a zone of privacy which government may not force him to surrender to his detriment. The Ninth Amendment provides: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
The Amendment, at the very least, further amplifies the right to privacy that is the foundation of our right to contraception and a woman's right to control her own body. It asserts explicitly that our homes are sacrosanct, along with the 4th.
And while nobody has to worry about the US Army using their house as a barracks, that's in part because for 200+ years, it's been forbidden. What's more, it forces the government to pay for billeting, which means it has to be appropriated, is thus on the books and controllable by civil authority and ultimately the People. That's no small thing.
If you refuse to take a holistic view of the Constitution and our history, and rather look at each clause or event in isolation, you really miss a lot. That's the kind of rigid, compartmentalized thinking that makes it so hard to even discuss balancing the right to keep and bear arms with other needs of society at large.
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