I’ve long wondered — mostly in jest — whether the Third Amendment says anything meaningful for modern constitutional analysis. Griswold v. Connecticut cited the Amendment as support for the “right to privacy,” but that’s the only time it’s really been used. But here’s an thought experiment (partly fun, partly serious).
Here’s the text of the 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.”
Most people overlook the fact that this means Congress has the power to quarter soldiers in your house during a war (it just needs to pass a law to do so). If the Third Amendment is construed as expressing a privacy principle, then this suggests that Congress has greater latitude to invade our privacy during a war. Of course, this begs the question of what “war” means. Does that mean there must be a declaration of war? Or is it just “not peace,” given that peace is stated as a condition in the preceding clause? If Congress decides that we need to put soldiers in private homes to fight the war on terrorism, would that be constitutional?