Now we see another Third Amendment case, from Henderson, Nev., in which the plaintiffs, the Mitchell family, claim that Henderson police seized their home — battering the door open with a battering ram — so as to secure an advantageous position in addressing a domestic violence report involving a neighboring house. The police were quite rude — calling the inhabitants “assholes” and shooting both Anthony Mitchell and his dog with a pepper-ball gun — before setting up a lookout post in the house.
Should the Third Amendment have something to say about this? Well, it speaks only to “troops,” not police — but then, professional police in the modern sense hadn’t been invented at the time of the framing. And given the extreme militarization of police nowadays — with Nomex coveralls, body armor, AR-15 rifles, grenades, armored vehicles, etc., all documented in Radley Balko’s new book, The Rise of the Warrior Cop, — maybe that’s a distinction without a difference anyway. Armed minions of the state seizing your home by force seem close enough to “troops” for me.
Personally, I think we need to return to the sense of one’s home as a castle, a “fundamental right of privacy” that the Third Amendment was intended to protect. Police, except in those rather rare cases where they reasonably think someone inside is being held hostage or the like, should have to knock politely at the door and — unless they have a warrant — should have to depart if the homeowner doesn’t want them to come in. Those who violate this rule should be prosecuted as criminals, and opened up to lawsuits without benefit of official immunity.