Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

March 14, 2005

UAW won’t “support the troops” anymore

Filed under: — Different River @ 1:18 am

This is probably the only time I’ve ever heard of someone asserting their constitutional rights under the Third Amendment. Though I doubt they know that’s what they’re doing.

The United Auto Workers has its international headquarters near a Marine Reserve Center in Detroit. They have been letting Marine reservists part their cars their while working at the Reserve Center on weekends. But no more — at least, not if for Marines who have pro-Bush bumper-stickers or foreign cars.

From AP:

“While reservists certainly have the right to drive nonunion made vehicles and display bumper stickers touting the most anti-worker, anti-union president since the 1920s, that doesn’t mean they have the right to park in a lot owned by the members of the UAW,” the union said in a statement released Friday.

Shocked and disappointed, the Marines are pulling out.

“You either support the Marines or you don’t,” said Lt. Col. Joe Rutledge, commanding officer of the battalion’s active duty instructors. “I’m telling my Marines that they’re no longer parking there.”

At a time when U.S. armed forces are fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, quibbling over parking privileges is “silly,” Rutledge said.

The pro-Bush bumper stickers are another sore spot after last year’s election.

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger opposed President Bush, accusing him of ignoring calls for labor law reform and failing to combat unfair business practices in China — a growing threat to U.S. manufacturers.

“We do not think it is unreasonable to expect our guests to practice the simple principle of not insulting their host,” the UAW statement said.

[Lt. Col.] Rutledge is unmoved.

“I don’t see it as a snub against them,” he said, adding no conditions were set when the union first began allowing the Marines to park in the lot several years ago. “We’re appreciative of what they’ve done, but you don’t come into my office and say, ‘OK, we’re not going to support some of your Marines.’ I don’t know what a foreign car is today anyway. BMWs are made in South Carolina now.

One of the great things about the United States of America is that people have the right, under the Third Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to deny the military access to their property. And one of the lousy things is that some people exercise that right in really nasty ways, like denying our reservists the right to use an empty parking lot on weekends just because they don’t like the reservists’ bumper stickers and choice of cars.

Footnote 1:
I myself buy only American cars, but maybe I should re-evaluate this if the UAW continues to act anti-American.

Footnote 2:
For those of you who don’t remember (which is probably, as you’ll see below, nothing to be embarrassed about), the Third Amendment states:

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.

Now I know it says “house,” but given the expansive interpretation the courts have given to the rights in the other Bill of Rights amendments (except the second, of course), I imagine if there were ever a third amendment case (has there been?), they would rule it to apply to all private property, and would include parking cars in the meaning of quartering soldiers.

By the way, one of my favorite “quiz questions” to ask lawyers when we get to talking about law (especially if the lawyer in question expounds on how ignorant the public is of the law) has always been, “What right is protected by the Third Amendment?” I’ve been asking this for about five years now, and exactly one lawyer has gotten it right. So if you didn’t know, don’t worry — if you fell asleep in your civics class, this probably isn’t what you missed. ;-)

UPDATE #1: Rank-and-file Democrats are supporting the UAW’s decision, and further insulting the Marines, on Democratic Underground.

UPDATE #2: The UAW flip-flopped due to bad publicity, but the Marines said they’re not coming back anyway. See here.

4 Responses to “UAW won’t “support the troops” anymore”

  1. romy Says:

    i fell asleep in civics class, but i do remember the 3rd amendment. thanks for staying awake for the rest of us, DR. ;)

    now, not that i agree with what the UAW are doing, which is just as short-sighted and discriminatory as the behaviors they opposed in the last election, as well as childishly retaliatory. but i don’t think you can categorize them as “anti-american,” especially as they are exercising a right granted by our constitution. is the NRA also anti-american because they support the right to bear arms even though americans get shot by guns?

  2. Different River Says:

    I didn’t categorize them as “anti-American” because they exercised their constitutional rights. I categorize them as “anti-American” because they are publicly insulting the people who put their lives on the line to defend America.

    I totally support their constitutional rights — mainly as a matter of principle, since I believe in those rights, but also because there’s something poetic in allowing people who are offending me enough metaphorical rope to metaphorically hang themselves with.

    Futhermore, there is something a bit hypocritcal in using one’s constitutional rights to force out of your parking lot people putting their lives on the line efending one’s constitutional rights — just because those people decided to exerience those same constitutional rights as well. (I.e., the Marines risk their lives for everybody’s rights, including their own. But when those same Marines, who’ve earned their rights more than the rest of us, have the temerity to exercise their right to free speech by putting a political bumper sticker on their car, the UAW suddendly discovers its constitional right to kick them out of their parking lot. (Actually, the UAW probably has no idea what the third amendment is, so it probably isn’t actually hypocritical.)

    As to your analogy, the NRA is not anti-American because they support the right to bear arms even though Americans get shot by guns, but they would be anti-American if they encouraged their members to shoot Marines on their way to work in Detroit, or (slightly better analogy) if they said all Americans should have the right to bear arms, but the Marines couldn’t use their empty parking lot of they were exercising that right.

    P.S. Romy, do you really think I learned about the Third Amendment in civics class, of all places? ;-)

  3. Michael Loewinger Says:

    There have in fact been 3rd amendment cases. But they’re really rare and none have even reached the Supreme Court. Its also sometimes used to support a right to privacy. Ironically, when America had to fight wars on our own soil in the War of 1812 and Civil War we quartered troops in people’s homes without even a wink at the 3rd Amendment. Oh well.

  4. Different River Says:

    Interesting. Do you know what any of the Third Amendment cases were about?

    About the War of 1812 and Civil War: The Third Amendment does allow quartering troops in private homes “in a manner to be prescribed by law.” Did the law do that in those instances?

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