Thoughts on Independence Day & The Third Amendment

All men are created equal.

Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

JoshCampaignHat_0799One of my motivations for becoming an attorney was my love of country.

Celebrating our Declaration of Independence on the 4th of July has always been very important to me (Just as is Constitution Day).

Not because of memories of my grandfather making homemade ice cream by hand, fireworks in front of our house or marching in the local parade as a youth.

Those things made up my American Experience.

My love of the 4th of July is heavily fueled by my love of history. From the events of 1763 to the Declaration of Independence; from to the Federalist Papers to the United States Constitution and ultimately the Bill of Rights, essentially define American life in the United States. The story of how all came about have been the subject of many books, each with great leaders who will be remembered as long as we have a country.

Nature throws us all into the world equal and alike…the only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man [kings included] to endanger public liberty.


John Adams, from his notes on an oration at Braintree, quoted in John Adams, by David McCullough, page 121.

On Being a History Geek

I took enough upper division history classes at UC Davis for a mini major in United States history. Our history has many heroes who did the hard work to build a free nation. They literally put their lives on the line for a free nation to be born.

Do you recollect the pensive and awful silence which pervaded the house when we were called up, one after another, to the table of the President of the Congress to subscribe what was believed by many at that time to be our own death warrants?

Benjamin Rush, letter to John Adams, 1781, The Essential Wisdom of the Founding Fathers, edited by Carol Kelly-Gangi

We value our freedom from government intervention with our lives. Perhaps the most overlooked evidence of this national value is the Third Amendment to the US Constitution. Few people EVER hear mention of this Amendment, but it expressly forbids the quartering of soldiers in private homes. The Third Amendment expressly states:

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.

The United States simply has not quartered soldiers in private homes because of our Revolutionary experience from the British soldiers being unwanted house guests. There is barely any case law of the Third Amendment, simply because the US Army has not forced soldiers into the homes of citizens to be fed and housed. We don’t do that here.

The Third Amendment highlights one of our fundamental beliefs in country: to be free of an oppressive police state. This is paramount for anyone to have “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Moreover, the Third Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights creating a “penumbra of privacy” as cited in Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 484 (U.S. 1965).

The Third Amendment might be one of the forgotten amendments, but it certainly demonstrates our values of a free society.

On Service to Country

Every post is honorable in which a man can serve his country.

George Washington, Letter to Benedict Arnold, September 14, 1775, The Essential Wisdom of the Founding Fathers, edited by Carol Kelly-Gangi

Our country is free because of those willing to defend it.

I have many friends who serve in the military. I know many who serve the public trust as district attorneys, public defenders, county counsel and judges. To everyone who took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, thank you.

…and Third Amendment notwithstanding, there are very few Americans who would not be proud to invite someone serving in the military over to join in a 4th of July celebration.