Got mixed feelings about this country, but the Bill of Rights is pretty great. Like, better than Western Europe great, which tends to be my benchmark for things worth celebrating about this country in particular.
Also the Fourteenth Amendment. Equal protection (eventually), incorporation of the Bill of Rights against the states (eventually), all in all pretty great.
The first amendment specifically, and America’s expansive free speech protections in general, are superior to those in the rest of the western world. That’s one aspect of American exceptionalism I will wholeheartedly endorse.
Speech/press and religion are the big ones as far as I can tell. The rest of the west is pretty good on peaceable assembly, the rights of the accused, etc., and better on cruel and unusual punishment for the most part, but finding out about British libel law and the French view of “secularism” was really when my belief that Western Europe was a liberal paradise died.
Do any countries currently/in living memory have governments that housed soldiers in private homes, or did the American founding fathers overestimate the importance of that issue?
Basically, right after the American revolution, Napoleon invented modern military logistics (well, sorta modern) and so this stopped being as much of a problem.
I suspect that you can take your pick of ugly third world armies.
In the past in Europe, and probably more recently in other places, armies more or less lived by pillaging, if you were unlucky, and garrisoning your own towns sometimes could be fractionally as bad as having them occupied by the enemy.
If history, especially even recent history shows, having soldiers be in close proximity to civilians doesn’t lead to good things happening.
Fun fact: the Third Amendment is one of the few parts of the Bill of Rights that hasn’t been incorporated against the states. The Second Circuit has ruled that it applies to states within its jurisdiction (i.e. NY and western New England), but otherwise it just hasn’t really come up, since armies aren’t organized at the state level to the extent they were back in the late eighteenth century.
Given how much the meaning of the constitution has been stretched in other ways, I’m surprised noone has tried to use it as a precedent against eminent domain or civil forfeiture. The basic principle is that you are not allowed to take private property at will
Ooh that’s a very neat argument and it seems like less of a stretch than some interpretations of other things. Why is the potential for 3rd amendment judicial activism so neglected, this is ridiculous!
Which interpretations are you thinking of? The unenumerated rights I can think of offhand (privacy and association) generally have substantially broader bases than a general principle arguably on display in one amendment. For instance, Justice Douglas’ opinion in Griswold v. Connecticut asserts that privacy is implicit in the Third Amendment protection under discussion, the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure, and the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination, as well as in the other unenumerated right of association. That seems like less of a stretch than using the Third Amendment to strike down eminent domain/appropriation, particularly since the Fifth Amendment already covers it: “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” The standard line of legal reasoning here is that if it were meant to not be taken at all, the text would say so; this doesn’t mean that a subsequent amendment couldn’t further limit it, but it’s hard to argue that the Constitution as it stands prohibits the taking of private property.
This one has some examples of how the First is stretched (and for good reason!), and how it’s also been violated.
The Fourth is being heavily undermined for bullshit reasons.
The Fifth’s protections against eminent domain have been rendered basically worthless (Kelo vs. New London what the FUCK), and due process has also been neglected heavily
The Sixth provides “””impartial””” all-white juries, and “””assistance””” of counsel in the form of incredibly shitty public defenders.
The Seventh’s jury trials are mostly replaced by plea bargaining.
I guess one can use the Eight’s wording of “unusual” as a way to weasel out from locking people in SHUs and shit.
So I could definitely see using the Third to oppose confiscating land for military use, or letting cops steal shit from people, to be less of a deviation from what it says there than the various things
All of these pale in comparison to the abuse of the Commerce Clause though. Yes it’s good to get a Civil Rights Act, but how on earth do you derive it from “interstate commerce”. I can see having government services not discriminate and anyone getting government moneys or subsidies not discriminate flow from the 14th, 15th and 24th by reading from intent etc., but the interstate commerce part is way stretch. It isn’t even the worst stretch it’s been used for by any means.
Compared to the rest of what I will call “the west,” the US Bill of Rights has exactly two things that give broader rights than what you’d have in our Standard Western Country: Amendments 1 and 2.
Incidentally, American Popular Discourse has exactly two amendments it is trying to degrade to the point of the other amendments.