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On Thursday, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser dropped the curfew in the nation’s capital and reportedly booted National Guard troops from hotels, asserting control over law enforcement in Washington. Bowser has insisted that President Donald Trump does not have the authority to bring National Guard troops from other states to the capital without her consent, despite the George Floyd protests devolving into riots in Washington. Tragically, some commentators are defending her decision to expel National Guard troops from the capital, citing the Third Amendment.
It is great news that protests were peaceful in D.C. on Wednesday night, but that does not mean it is wise to withdraw the National Guard just yet.
As Trump noted in a tweet on Tuesday, “many arrests,” “overwhelming force,” and “domination” likely contributed to the return of tranquility on the streets of the nation’s capital.
In an interview on MSNBC, Bowser condemned Trump’s decision to send in the National Guard from other states, pledging to “fight” him on it. “They’re moving on us hard and strong right now, but I think, and he’s even said, that this is practice. So who’s next?” she said.
“We are examining every legal question about the president’s authority to send troops, even National Guard, to the District of Columbia,” Bowser said during a Wednesday news conference. “Another way to put it is, does the president have the legal authority to request Guard from other states? I have the authority to request guards from other states.”
Yet Bowser has also reportedly ordered the hotels housing the National Guard to evict the soldiers.
“Just heard that Mayor Bowser is kicking the Utah National Guard out of all DC hotels tomorrow. More than 1200 troops from 10 states are being evicted. This is unacceptable,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) tweeted. “These brave men and women have risked their lives protecting DC for three days. Rioting, looting, arson, and vandalism have all disappeared bc these soldiers served. And now they are being kicked to the curb by an ungrateful mayor. This must be stopped.”
Some have claimed that the Third Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits the quartering of U.S. troops in civilian homes, applies to this situation and enables Bowser to expel the National Guard.
Grace Panetta, a politics reporter for Business Insider, responded, “and the third amendment was there, right when America needed her most.”
“Not only is it acceptable but it’s firmly constitutional. A little thing called the Third Amendment, ya go–amn lousy lawmaker,” transgender activist Charlotte Clymer tweeted.
This argument is absurd on many levels. 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.”
So, are these troops being quartered without the consent of the owner? DCist reported that many of the nearly 3,000 National Guardsmen from states including South Carolina, Utah, New Jersey, and Maryland who were dispatched to the capital are staying in the Marriott Marquis. The hotel had been closed for the coronavirus crisis, but now the National Guard is paying the hotel around $250 per diem to house the soldiers. It seems the Marriott Marquis has suddenly enjoyed an influx of cash after weeks with no business.
Perhaps even more importantly, the hotel is partially funded by D.C. taxpayers. As Bradley Moss, a D.C.-based national security lawyer, told Business Insider, “Unless the local military facilities in the DC area, to say nothing of hotels desperate for cash, run out of available space, there should be no need to force DC residents to house any of these military personnel.”
Mike Lee is right to be outraged, and Bowser’s obstinacy does not make the case for making Washington, D.C., its own state. Bowser should be working with Trump to restore law and order after the destruction of black lives, black livelihoods, and black monuments. As the president announced from the White House on Monday, if “a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”
The destruction and riots may be over in the nation’s capital, but Bowser’s decision to “fight” Trump and to evict the National Guard is petty, especially considering the fact that Washington, D.C. is not just her domain but home to the federal government: the Congress, the administration, and the Supreme Court.