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5 Jun, 2020 17:03

The 3rd Amendment gets its moment? DC mayor clashes with Trump & GOP governors over National Guard quartering

The 3rd Amendment gets its moment? DC mayor clashes with Trump & GOP governors over National Guard quartering

Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has ordered the National Guard and other federal troops to leave her city – setting up an unexpected clash over the rarely-invoked Third Amendment barring the quartering of troops.

After declaring an end to the District of Columbia’s state of emergency, Bowser posted a letter to President Donald Trump ordering the removal of “all extraordinary federal law enforcement and military presence” from the city on Friday.

Citing concern over “unidentified federal personnel patrolling the streets of Washington DC,” Bowser lamented that the military presence was “inflaming demonstrators and adding to the grievances” of protesters she insisted had been largely peaceful.

Pointing to the lack of arrests by the Metropolitan Police Department the night before, Bowser explained the city was able to handle “large demonstrations and First Amendment activities” without the assistance of 10 states’ National Guard troops. She added that the federal and out-of-state troops’ refusal to wear “identifying insignia” was contributing to “confusion and concern,” suggesting that the visiting troops were responsible for much of the “conflict between police and citizens.

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Bowser also condemned the use of military helicopters to disperse protesters after one was used earlier this week in a warlike maneuver to terrorize a small group on the streets.

Not everyone was thrilled with the idea of kicking the National Guard out of the nation’s capital, however. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) called the move to evict more than 1,200 troops from city hotels “unacceptable” in a late-night tweet on Thursday, having gotten wind of Bowser’s order before it was made public.

But Lee was flooded with messages highlighting the Third Amendment to the US Constitution, which protects Americans from being forced to quarter troops in their homes.

Bowser had hinted on Thursday that her government was looking for a legal way to evict the National Guard troops sent by Utah – as well as Ohio, South Carolina, Indiana, New Jersey, Maryland, and Tennessee – noting that while Trump had called them up, the District didn’t want them.

As protests against police brutality grip the nation, turning hundreds of cities into nightly war zones as police frequently deploy heavy-handed tactics and massive peaceful protests are overshadowed by violence and looting, parallels have been drawn between the police – often armed with military surplus gear – and occupying armies. Some found it fitting that the Third Amendment would make an appearance under these circumstances.

Others countered by claiming the Third Amendment didn’t apply to businesses, but the cat was already out of the bag.

While the Third Amendment tends to be overshadowed by the First (protecting freedom of speech, assembly and religion) and the Second (protecting the right to bear arms), it was considered important during the Revolutionary War era as American colonists were expected to shelter British soldiers in their homes – no matter how abusive the occupying forces were.

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