5

According to the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution,

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.

I have questions concerning the latter type of citizenship (i.e., citizenship of a particular US state, not citizenship of the United States as a whole). I suppose that the issue of state citizenship comes into play when someone wants to exercise certain state-specific rights (e.g., voting in state elections) and possibly also when the state imposes obligations (e.g., if a state, like the federal government, wants to impose income tax on its own citizens regardless of their residence).

A plain reading of the 14th Amendment clause makes it clear that state citizenship is acquired by residence. But the wording doesn't preclude the possibility of state citizenship being acquired by other means. Are there any other circumstances under which state citizenship may be acquired? Is it up to each individual state, or are there federal laws that come into play? Even if it's up to each individual state, do most of them at least apply the same general rules?

For example, do any states offer citizenship by descent (jus sanguinis) to persons who are residents of other states but who are the children and/or descendants of a state citizen? Do any states offer citizenship by place of birth (jus soli) to persons born in the state but who have since moved away? Do any states offer naturalization processes to become state citizens that do not require them to be residents? Is there any precedent for US citizens to have dual or multiple citizenship among the various states (e.g. dual citizen of NJ and NY, or citizen of TX by birth, OK and KS by descent, AZ by naturalization, and LA by residence)?

The clause also says nothing about loss of state citizenship. Again, is it up to each individual state when citizenship is lost, or does it always happen automatically when a citizen takes up residence in a new state? I'm particularly interested to know whether it's possible for a person to hold multiple state citizenships simultaneously, and whether it's possible for a person to retain their state citizenship if they move to a new country (as opposed to moving to a new state within the US).

10
  • 2
    I've never heard it referred to as 'citizenship' before (as a USA-ian). I am a 'resident' of a state, either full-time or part-time. States generally want to consider you a 'resident' so they can tax you. Trying to find specific rules of exactly what is or is not used to determine residency is difficult.
    – Jon Custer
    Apr 11, 2022 at 13:01
  • For what purpose does state citizenship make a difference? Are you aware of any state that makes state citizenship a condition of any rights or obligations?
    – user102008
    Apr 11, 2022 at 15:53
  • @user102008: I already mentioned some rights and obligations in my question. Lest you think these are speculative, check out the state constitutions. New York's, for instance, grants state citizens the right to vote in state elections, and to stand for office.
    – Psychonaut
    Apr 11, 2022 at 16:09
  • 2
    @phoog Only for voting in federal elections. States are not required to limit state and local voting to U.S. citizens by federal law or as a result of the U.S. Constitution.
    – ohwilleke
    Apr 11, 2022 at 20:44
  • 1
    @phoog New York City's local election, and many local special district government elections that afford rights to property owners allow non-U.S. citizens to vote.
    – ohwilleke
    Apr 11, 2022 at 21:05

4 Answers 4

2

Citizenship in a U.S. state is governed primarily by the first sentence of Section 1 of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states (emphasis added):

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.

So, in the case of a natural person who is a U.S. citizen, the state in which you are domiciled is the state in which you are a citizen.

The clause also says nothing about loss of state citizenship. Again, is it up to each individual state when citizenship is lost, or does it always happen automatically when a citizen takes up residence in a new state? I'm particularly interested to know whether it's possible for a person to hold multiple state citizenships simultaneously, and whether it's possible for a person to retain their state citizenship if they move to a new country (as opposed to moving to a new state within the US).

The notion of domicile or residence is singular in the case of a natural person. When you become a resident of a new state, you cease to be a resident of the old state, unless some other specific law applies. It is not generally possible for a natural person to hold multiple state citizenships simultaneous (in theory), and if a person is domiciled outside any U.S. state (e.g. if they are domiciled in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, or France), they are not a citizen of any U.S. state.

Common law domicile, which is relevant for constitutional law purposes, can be changes in a single day, not particular period of residence is required. If you leave your home in say, Georgia, and move into an apartment in say, Ohio with an intent to remain in Ohio indefinitely, your domicile switches to an Ohio domicile immediately.

Common law domicile is generally what would control for diversity of citizenship jurisdiction purposes under 28 U.S. Code § 1332 and Article III of the United States Constitution. However, even though the U.S. Constitution clearly authorizes Congress to extent diversity of citizenship jurisdiction granting access to the federal courts to every lawsuit to which a non-U.S. citizen that resides in a state and a U.S. citizen that resides in a state, I do not know from memory if 28 U.S. Code § 1332 has been interpreted to have that effect in cases where the amount in controversy exceeds the statutory required $75,000, or if instead, a lawsuit between a non-citizens who reside in the same state as a U.S. citizen resident of a state is not subject to diversity jurisdiction in federal court pursuant to 28 U.S. Code § 1332 (diversity jurisdiction is concurred and not exclusive, so if someone tries a case in state court when diversity jurisdiction would have been available without trying to remove it to federal court, the state court still has full jurisdiction over the case).

This said, some state and local laws, and even some federal laws, create rights and obligations that arise from residency defined in a manner other than the constitutionally provided notion of state citizenship under Section 1 of the 14th Amendment, and there is both state and federal law governing the deemed citizenship of legal persons other than "natural persons" such as corporations and partnerships.

For example, under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (a model law enacted as state law in every U.S. state) and Parental Kidnapping Protection Act, and a treaty governing international child custody cases, for purposes of child custody jurisdiction there is a definition of a concept called the "home state" of a child, which differs materially from the common law definition of the domicile of a child which previously informed jurisdiction in child custody cases. The statutory definitions aren't identical, but basically look back about six months from the present, rather than looking at the current instant only, to determine where a child resides for purposes of child custody jurisdiction.

Under state and federal law respectively, there are certain changes in de facto place of residence that do not change legal domicile for purposes of eligibility to vote in federal, state, and local elections. Soldiers deployed away from the military base that is established as their home, e.g., in a foreign war or military base, remain citizens of the state where their home is even though they don't reside there on a day to day basis.

Students living in dormitories away from their parents' home only sometimes acquire a domicile and citizenship in the state where their dormitory is located - almost never in the case of an economically dependent minor present in another state with parental permission, and mostly based upon the subjective intent of the student in the case of a college student.

Usually, prison inmates continue to be citizens of the state where they were domiciled at the time they were sentenced, even if they are housed in another state on a contract basis, or are convicted of a crime in a state where they did not reside at the time.

Historically, married women were, as a matter of law, deemed to be domiciled and to be state citizens of the state where her husband resided, but that rule has been abrogated. Now, the state citizenship and state of residence of married women is determined independently of the state citizenship and state of residence of her spouse.

Despite the common law rule, states have rather elaborate operational definitions of state residence for different purposes.

For voting in state and local elections, a residency period of thirty-days or so has been tolerated as a historical administrative necessity. Similarly state residency periods for eligibility to get divorced in a state are similar.

State residency rules for purposes of in-state tuition, hunting and fishing license fees, park entrance fees, and the like, vary considerably, and the U.S. Supreme Court has largely chosen to rule that the privileges and immunities clauses of the U.S. Constitution and the 14th Amendment do not apply to these cases.

The privileges and immunities clauses became mostly a dead letter in U.S. Constitutional law as a result of the Slaughterhouse Cases, 83 US 36 (1873), in which judges seeking to limit the effect of the 13th and 14th Amendments passed in the wake of the U.S. Civil War interpreted them in a manner that gave them only a narrow effect.

And, unlike Plessy v. Ferguson, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that authorized the segregated Jim Crow regime in the former slave states until it was overruled by Brown v. Board of Education, the Slaughterhouse Cases largely remain good law.

It is largely because of a line of cases that started with the Slaugherhouse Cases that very few rights and duties are defined as incident to either United States citizenship or state citizenship, rather than to state defined residency for a particular purpose or being a "person", which, in turn, has made state citizenship such a limited concept that many civically well educated people do not even know that it exists.

The Slaughterhouse cases also caused the federal constitutional individual rights jurisprudence that incorporates these rights against state and local governments to develop mostly under the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment, rather than its privileges and immunities protections.

States are not permitted to limit admission to a licensed profession or occupation in the state to state residents only under the privileges and immunities clause, but can somewhat vary the rules that apply to state residents v. people who are not state residents.

For state income tax purposes, a majority of nights residing in a state normally controls in a simple two-state case. Some states are in interstate compacts (i.e. Congressionally approved interstate treaties) with each other about how income is allocated when a person resides in multiple states during the course of a tax year.

But the wording doesn't preclude the possibility of state citizenship being acquired by other means. Are there any other circumstances under which state citizenship may be acquired? Is it up to each individual state, or are there federal laws that come into play? Even if it's up to each individual state, do most of them at least apply the same general rules?

Many state and local government afford privileges usually only afforded to state citizens to state residents who are not U.S. citizens. This case include, most famously in the case of New York City local elections and in elections to special districts where property owners are entitled to vote, a right to vote in local elections that is afforded to people who are not U.S. citizens (federal law prohibits this in federal elections).

Sometimes this is in the discretion of the state or local government. But, since immigration and naturalization law is vested solely and exclusive in the federal government under the U.S. Constitution, there are many circumstances in which non-citizen residents of a state or local government must be treated identically to citizen residents of a state or local government outside the few areas where federal immigration laws authorize a distinction and outside of the few areas where the benefits or privilege or obligation is expressly tied to citizenship as opposed to residency (e.g. jury duty).

Footnote on the Slaughterhouse Cases

The following summary is from the link above:

Facts of the case

Louisiana passed a law that restricted slaughterhouse operations in New Orleans to a single corporation. Pursuant to the law, the Crescent City Live-stock Landing and Slaughter-House Company received a charter to run a slaughterhouse downstream from the city. No other areas around the city were permitted for slaughtering animals over the next 25 years, and existing slaughterhouses would be closed. A group of butchers argued that they would lose their right to practice their trade and earn a livelihood under the monopoly. Specifically, they argued the monopoly created involuntary servitude in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment, and abridged privileges or immunities, denied equal protection of the laws, and deprived them of liberty and property without due process of law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Question

Did the creation of the monopoly violate the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments?

Conclusion

5–4 DECISION FOR VARIOUS MAJORITY OPINION BY SAMUEL F. MILLER

The Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applies to national citizenship, not to state citizenship.

The Court held that the monopoly violated neither the Thirteenth or Fourteenth Amendments, reasoning that these amendments were passed with the narrow intent to grant full equality to former slaves. Thus, to the Court, the Fourteenth Amendment only banned the states from depriving blacks of equal rights; it did not guarantee that all citizens, regardless of race, should receive equal economic privileges by the state. Any rights guaranteed by the Privileges or Immunities Clause were limited to areas controlled by the federal government, such as access to ports and waterways, the right to run for federal office, and certain rights affecting safety on the seas. Moreover, the Court held that the butchers bringing suit were not deprived of their property without due process of law because they could still earn a legal living in the area by slaughtering on the Crescent City Company grounds. Thus, the Court concluded that the Louisiana law was constitutional.

Justice Stephen Johnson Field’s dissent argued that the Fourteenth Amendment could not be construed as only protecting former slaves. Rather, he believed that it incorporated strands of common-law doctrine and needed to be interpreted outside the Civil War context. This position would later become widely accepted.

Later cases would also interpret U.S. Constitution, Art IV §2 Cl. 1, which states that:

The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.

very narrowly, following the lead of the Slaughterhouse cases, mostly by holding that particular privileges and immunities other than a narrow core handful of state law rights and privileges and duties, were not associated with state citizenship per se.

2
  • Expatriates are entitled to vote and those votes are assigned to some state or territory. I believe there's a de jure residency for each of them, probably based on their passport.
    – Spencer
    May 9, 2023 at 13:25
  • 1
    @Spencer Since US passports don't say anything about where people live, I doubt it has anything to do with them. Aug 1, 2023 at 18:09
1

Art. II §2 cl. 1 of the Constitution says

The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority..--between a state and citizens of another state;--between citizens of different states;--between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects.

Art IV §2 Cl. 1 holds that

The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.

The 11th Amendment states:

The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.

The Constitution in its original state doesn't say how one becomes a citizen, which resulted in substantial controversy and the Dred Scott decision (he was declared to be not a citizen of any state). The Fourteenth Amendment eliminated some of the controversy though the sentence "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".

To be a citizen of a state, you must first be born or naturalized in the United States (and subject to US jurisdiction, thus not an ambassador's offspring); or, you may be a citizen under federal statute depending on the citizenship of your parents (this is covered under sections 301, 309 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act). Second, you must reside in some state – you gain Idaho citizenship by moving to and residing in Idaho, and you lose it by moving to and gaining residence in Washington. This kicks the can down the road by deferring the matter to a determination of residency. States respond by multiplying the number of cans, since "residency" is treated as a cluster of requirements. E.g. college tuition, in-state fishing license, welfare, public housing, voting, drivers license. SCOTUS has ruled (individually) on many of these requirements, but has never reached a unified theory of allowed residency requirements. However, when speaking of "fundamental rights", any restrictions on residency would be subject to strict scrutiny, thus voting could not be limited to those who have been resident for two years (but: being a candidate for office can be subject a long residence requirement, see Oregon's Article V, § 2 requirement for 3 year residence to be eligible to hold the office of governor except through succession).

6
  • 1
    "To be a citizen of a state, you must first be born or naturalized in the United States (and subject to US jurisdiction, thus not an ambassador's offspring)." There are many US citizens who were never born or naturalized in the United States, e.g., people who were born abroad and who were US citizens at birth, and people born or naturalized in US territories (unincorporated territories are not part of "the United States" for the purposes of that clause). Those people cannot be a citizen of a state?
    – user102008
    Apr 11, 2022 at 15:58
  • @user102008 they are not citizens of a state until they move to the US and take up residence in a state.
    – Esther
    Apr 11, 2022 at 16:12
  • @user6726 Your answer makes it clear that state citizenship is lost by moving to another state. What about moving to another country?
    – Psychonaut
    Apr 11, 2022 at 16:16
  • 1
    @Esther: But the answer said that to be a citizen of a state, they must first be born or naturalized in the United States, implying that if they were never born or naturalized in the United States, they can't be a citizen of a state, even if they move there.
    – user102008
    Apr 11, 2022 at 17:06
  • Esther, taking this law literally (and how else would you take it) it looks like there are US citizens who can never become “state citizens”.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 12, 2022 at 23:11
0

State citizenship exists and is referred to in the Constitution and its amendments. For example, Article III gives the Supreme Court (or the federal judiciary in general) jurisdiction over a number of cases based on the state citizenship of parties:

Section 2 ... The judicial power shall extend ... to controversies between two or more states; between a state and citizens of another state; between citizens of different states; between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects.

Applied to the federal judiciary, these cases are often referred to as "diversity of citizenship", as codified in 28 U.S. Code § 1332.

Such citizenship of a state for a natural person, for the purposes of the federal Constitution, is determined by domicile, that is, a relatively fixed and permanent place of abode.

For example, in Chicago & Northwestern Railway Co. v. Ohle (1886), the following jury instruction was upheld.

Now, it is contended on the part of the defendant that he did not acquire citizenship in Chicago until he went there in March, 1884, after he had completed his schooling in Janesville. Now, if he did not, if that was the first time that he actually went to Chicago with the intent to remain there and take up his citizenship and his residence there, why then you would have to find that that was the time that he lost his citizenship in Iowa and acquired it in Illinois. ...

For the purposes of the U.S. Constitution (with respect to e.g. the diversity requirement for federal judicial jurisdiction), the citizenship of a state is lost when the person no longer considers that state their home.

I don't think anything prevents a state to recognize "citizens" with various benefits and privileges within their own limits and law. A state could for example allow foreigners to vote in a state election. However, once a federal law or the U.S. constitution is engaged, it is unlikely that the state has much power to affect the definition of citizenship applied by those laws. For example, a State is likely unable to prevent federal diversity jurisdiction simply by declaring the other party its citizen.

Of course, unlike the U.S. citizenship, it is essentially meaningless outside the U.S. and most of the times citizenship would mean a citizenship or nationality of a fully sovereign state.

4
  • 1
    I don't see how state citizenship is "meaningless" outside the US. What if the citizen of a state moves abroad? Is she still considered a state citizen for the purposes of (mail-in) voting in state elections, or does she lose citizenship along with residency? The court decision you quote refers only to moving to another state, not moving to another country.
    – Psychonaut
    Apr 11, 2022 at 16:14
  • 1
    @Psychonaut By meaningless I mean such citizenship is not recognized internationally by other sovereign states. For your question, an American moving abroad will become "stateless" if they have the intention to settle abroad and make another country their domicile.
    – xngtng
    Apr 11, 2022 at 16:30
  • 1
    @Psychonaut Also, my penultimate paragraph was trying to explain that like all other legal terms "citizenship" can mean different things for different laws and jurisdictions. State citizenship under the U.S. constitution and/or federal law does not have to mean the same as the citizenship under the law of a state. A state citizenship under the U.S. constitution does not automatically gave a person the right to vote in that state's election and lack of one does not necessarily mean that they do not have such right.
    – xngtng
    Apr 11, 2022 at 16:33
  • Most people and most officials outside of the USA (and many inside the USA) would have no clue what “Citizen of Texas” for example means, they only have some idea what “US citizen” means. I suppose a US citizen moving from Texas to Berlin would remain a Texas citizen for some time until he is not considered a resident anymore by Texas(Texas will have rules for that) and become Texas citizen again some time after returning. Outside Texas, probably nobody cares.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 12, 2022 at 17:51
-4

US States have residents, not citizens. Residency is established by state laws, usually for the purpose of state benefits, like receiving resident tuition rates for a state university or voting.

Citizenship is a national/federal thing, not a state one. A plain reading of the 14th Amendment would be taken to mean only citizenship of the United States of America as a single entity.

2
  • 2
    Downvoted as this is flatly contradicted by both the US constitution and the constitutions of the individual states.
    – Psychonaut
    Apr 11, 2022 at 16:09
  • 1
    You are slightly confused here. Basically there is a law saying “If you are a citizen of the USA and a resident of Texas then you are a citizen of Texas”.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 12, 2022 at 11:22

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .