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How Many State Citizenships is a Billionaire Entitled to Under the Fourteenth Amendment?
Andrew Hyman

I am not a billionaire, and you probably aren’t either, but still it’s interesting to consider someone who owns houses in many states, and this hypothetical may help to clarify the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Citizenship Clause.  That clause says, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”  If a billionaire owns residences in fifteen different states, is he entitled under the Fourteenth Amendment to state citizenship in all fifteen states?

I think the answer is pretty clear.  The word “state” in the Citizenship Clause is singular, so the constitutional entitlement is to state citizenship in only one state. 

In turn, this implies that the word “reside” was not used in its broadest sense in the Citizenship Clause.  Bouvier’s Law Dictionary was the leading American law dictionary in the 1860s when the Fourteenth Amendment was written and adopted.  It includes several definitions of the word “residence,” which say nothing about the concept of “primary residence” but those definitions do speak quite a bit about “domicil.”  Here is the leading definition of the word “residence” from Bouvier’s:

RESIDENCE. The place of one's domicil. (q. v.) There is a difference between a man's residence and his domicil. He may have his domicil in Philadelphia, and still he may have a residence in New York; for although a man can have but one domicil, he may have several residences. A residence is generally transient in its nature, it becomes a domicil when it is taken up animo manendi. Roberts; Ecc. R. 75.

So, it seems fairly clear that when the word “reside” was used in the Citizenship Clause, the intended meaning was “domicil” (also spelled “domicile”).  The Citizenship Clause apparently assumes that someone who is constitutionally entitled to citizenship has a domicile in one of the states.  Of course, even if one is not constitutionally entitled to citizenship, one can still be entitled to it by statute.