Back in 2013, a lot of attention focused on a Third Amendment claim against Henderson, Nevada police officers. I wrote about the case here. The Third Amendment, which forbids the “quartering” of “soldiers” in private homes without the owner’s consent, is often the butt of jokes because it is so rarely litigated. But in this case, a Nevada family claimed that local police had violated the Amendment by forcibly occupying their home in order to gain a “tactical advantage” against suspected criminals in the neighboring house.
In this recent ruling, federal district court Judge Andrew Gordon dismissed the Third Amendment claim [HT: VC reader Sean Flaim]. Although it occurred several weeks ago, the ruling seems to have gotten very little attention from either the media or legal commentators outside Nevada. That is unfortunate, because the ruling raises important issues about the scope of the Third Amendment, and its applicability against state and local governments. A Here are the key passages from the opinion:
In the present case, various officers of the HPD and NLVPD entered into and occupied Linda’s and Michael’s home for an unspecified amount of time (seemingly nine hours), but certainly for less than twenty-four hours. The relevant questions are thus whether municipal police should be considered soldiers, and whether the time they spent in the house could be considered quartering. To both questions, the answer must be no.
I hold that a municipal police officer is not a soldier for purposes of the Third Amendment. This squares with the purpose of the Third Amendment because this was not a military intrusion into a private home, and thus the intrusion is more effectively protected by the Fourth Amendment. Because I hold that municipal officers are not soldiers for the purposes of this question, I need not reach the question of whether the occupation at issue in this case constitutes quartering, though I suspect it would not.