The Old Man’s Words of Wisdom

By William G. Schwab


Nitpicking is how I originally saw it when I got e-mail from assistant editor Evan Loeffler on my trivia question in the last issue asking which amendment had never been enforced. My answer was the Third Amendment. Evan wrote me:

I'm not sure if I entirely agree with the statement that it has "never" been enforced. Here is what the Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court says about the Third Amendment:

‘The Constitution's Third Amendment, which forbids nonconsensual quartering of soldiers in private homes during peacetime, lies almost forgotten among the Bill of Rights. It has been neither the source of much judicial concern nor the object of extensive academic or political controversy. . . . [Removed the section discussing why it was enacted] . . . The Supreme Court has never decided a case dealing directly with the issue of forced quartering of troops, although the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Engblom v. Carey, 677 F.2d 957 (1982) did hold that the Third Amendment applied to the National Guard while on state duty. . . .
So, the Third Amendment has been enforced, just not by the Supreme Court.

The Enblom case was one where the guards for a prison in the State of New York were provided housing as a part of their job. During a strike by the corrections officers, the state wanted to house National Guardsmen in the officers’ residences. The court held that they had a property-based privacy interest in the property to exclude others.

I am writing about this not to admit Evan was right and I was wrong and we should run a correction, but rather to point out that in law, though experience counts, research and hard work frequently can make up for experience.

As a young lawyer don’t assume the experienced lawyer is always right. Although generally I am right, occasionally I’m not. For me, as an old man, to continue to grow in the law I need to be challenged. I welcome the challenge. You as a young lawyer need to take this up, because mentoring and learning is not just from the old to the young, but rather a two-way street.

—William G. Schwab, GPSolo New Lawyer Editor
(an old man who is celebrating over 25 years as a general practice lawyer)

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