Saturday, March 17, 2012

The People of Indiana v. Richard Lugar: The Third Amendment

In 1765, the British enacted a law known as the Quartering Act, which required the American colonists to provide free boarding to the British soldiers who were protecting their British possessions on behalf of the King of England. One of the principal complaints the colonists had against the British government during the American Revolution was this enactment. In urging the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, along with the Bill of Rights, Patrick Henry stated:  "One of our first complaints, under the former government, was the quartering of troops among us. This was one of the principal reasons for dissolving the connection with Great Britain. Here we may have troops in time of peace. They may be billeted in any manner — to tyrannize, oppress, and crush us."

To protect against this form of tyranny and oppression, the founders of the U.S. Constitution included the Third Amendment in the Bill of Rights, which reads:
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.
Thankfully, it has not been necessary for U.S. citizens to invoke the Third Amendment since the adoption of the U.S. Constitution in 1787. There have been no Supreme Court decisions interpreting the Third Amendment because the problem that existed prior to the American Revolution has not existed. Well, the U.S. Supreme Court may get its first test case if Sen. Richard Lugar insists that he has a legal right to claim an ownership interest in the home of Elizabeth Hughes without her consent and without compensation for purposes of registering to vote in Indiana so he can maintain the legal fiction he has for the past 35 years been a resident of Indiana. That's precisely what Sen. Lugar claims he and his wife have the right to do under the Indiana Constitution. He believes the state's constitution allows the state to commandeer a legal interest in a person's home without their consent so a person in service of the U.S. government doesn't lose his residence in the state--the same protection claimed by Indiana soldiers absent from the state while serving in the military. Sen. Lugar hasn't owned or occupied the home Elizabeth Hughes now owns and occupies since 1977, but he insists our state's constitution gives him the right to claim a legal interest in Hughes' home without her consent to create the pretense he is a resident of Indiana. Think about it. Is it right? Just call it the Lugar Quartering Act.

As an aside, a prominent Indianapolis businessman shared with me a story of how a prominent Indianapolis attorney used to handle the affairs of his legal residence for voting purposes. The attorney hailed from Logansport but lived, worked and spent most of his time in Indianapolis where his law firm was located. Despite his close ties to Indianapolis, he felt even closer ties to his hometown of Logansport and desired to continue voting there. The attorney drew up a lease under which he rented a room in the home of a Logansport resident and long-time friend. He legally voted as a resident of Logansport in every election. Residency problem solved. It's that simple, Dick.

No comments: