The extent of the police state is already vast and creeping ever closer to where you live.

Across the nation, increasingly militarized police have employed not only SWAT teams, but tank-like vehicles, weapons of war and ever-more sophisticated technologies for surveillance and tracking. The game has changed significantly.

Now, there is growing concern about the “quartering” of police in private homes during investigations – but courts don’t see police as the same as military. So there may be no protection…

A federal judge just ruled that the Third Amendment to the Bill of Rights – which guards against quartering of troops – would not apply to police forcibly occupying a home, as police are not considered troops.

Law professor Ilya Somin wrote in the Washington Post:

Back in 2013, a lot of attention focused on a Third Amendment claim against Henderson, Nevada police officers. I wrote about the case here. The Third Amendment, which forbids the “quartering” of “soldiers” in private homes without the owner’s consent, is often the butt of jokes because it is so rarely litigated. But in this case, a Nevada family claimed that local police had violated the Amendment by forcibly occupying their home in order to gain a “tactical advantage” against suspected criminals in the neighboring house.

In this recent ruling, federal district court Judge Andrew Gordon dismissed the Third Amendment claim [HT: VC reader Sean Flaim]. Although it occurred several weeks ago, the ruling seems to have gotten very little attention from either the media or legal commentators outside Nevada. That is unfortunate, because the ruling raises important issues about the scope of the Third Amendment, and its applicability against state and local governments. Here are the key passages from the opinion:

In the present case, various officers of the HPD and NLVPD entered into and occupied Linda’s and Michael’s home for an unspecified amount of time (seemingly nine hours), but certainly for less than twenty-four hours. The relevant questions are thus whether municipal police should be considered soldiers, and whether the time they spent in the house could be considered quartering. To both questions, the answer must be no.

I hold that a municipal police officer is not a soldier for purposes of the Third Amendment. This squares with the purpose of the Third Amendment because this was not a military intrusion into a private home, and thus the intrusion is more effectively protected by the Fourth Amendment. Because I hold that municipal officers are not soldiers for the purposes of this question, I need not reach the question of whether the occupation at issue in this case constitutes quartering, though I suspect it would not.

So that’s one more brick in the wall for our freedoms.

The third amendment is often considered archaic as it is the least cited, and much less known than the first, second and fourth, which guarantee free speech, the right to bear arms and protection from warrantless searches, respectively. That’s because the United States has rarely, seen the quartering of troops on American soil – though there were cases during the War of 1812 and the Civil War.

But now that there is a de facto War Against Americans, should average Americans expect not only to be subjected to preemptive suspicion, and possible police abuse during encounters, but to be pushed around in their own homes as well whenever their neighbors are suspected or a search is desired or implied?

That remains to be seen, but this judicial decision has done precious little to protect anyone from that possibility – and denied recourse to the family whose home was already invaded in this case.

A professor named Andrew Codevilla argued that the War on Terror led to America being put on lockdown:

Once that impression had coalesced, Codevilla argued, it lead to a paradigm shift in policy making mindsets that has had serious consequences on the constitutional freedoms of the American people, a “lockdown” of the U.S. This in turn, Codevilla says, has resulted in a breakdown in the trust between citizens and the state — and a breakdown in trust between individual citizens.

They say it couldn’t happen here… but I’m not so sure.

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