Congress' interpretation of inhabitant vs. judicial test for
gln1 at COLUMBIA.EDU
Tue Sep 19 17:35:37 PDT 2000
Since attention has been returned to the actual constitutional issue, I
would like to submit some data (taken from earlier work on a different
issue), without attempting completeness or venturing a conclusion.
The word "inhabitants" was used in several state constitutions of the 18th
century in defining voter qualifications. It was also used in the
Northwest Ordinance. The Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 actually
defined the term, in Part II, Chapter I, Section II, Article II, as
follows: "And to remove all doubts concerning the meaning of the word
"inhabitant" in this constitution, every person shall be considered as an
inhabitant, for the purpose of electing and being elected into any office,
or place within this state, in that town, district or plantation where he
dwelleth, or hath his home." (The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court,
however, subsequently pointed out that this definition was not meant to
authorize alien suffrage; citizenship was an additional implied
qualification for voting in Massachusetts, though not in some other
states. See Opinion of the Justices, 7 Mass. 523 (1811).) See also N.H.
Const. 1784 (modeled on Mass.); Ga. Const. 1777, art. IX; N.J. Const of
1776, art. IV.
Within the 1787 Constitution, the variation between "Inhabitant" and
"Resident" is interesting because "Resident" is used only in the provision
that requires the President, in addition to being a native-born citizen to
be "fourteen Years a Resident within the United States," which presumably
requires more than domiciliary intent.
Conceivably "Inhabitant" rather than "citizen" is used in the
qualifications for office to finesse issues resulting from the power of
the states to define their own "citizens" prior to the Fourteenth
Although the Fourteenth Amendment use the term "reside" rather than
"inhabit", I believe has been interpreted as applying a test of domicile.
Might one view the Fourteenth Amendment as implicitly modifying the
qualifications for office by adopting a unified concept of state and
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