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No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

Shall not be an inhabitant? Isn't this the residency requirements? Why 'shall not' instead of 'shall'?

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    "No Person shall be a Representative ... who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant..." The language is a bit old-fashioned but it means what you think it should mean: that you have to be an inhabitant when you are elected Representative. – Patrick87 Apr 1 '16 at 19:38
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    If it said "shall ... be an inhabitant", then US Reps could not be inhabitants of the state where they are elected. – user6726 Apr 1 '16 at 19:47
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    The first word of the sentence ("no") forms a double negative with the "shall not" about which you're asking. It therefore means that nobody who is not a resident of a state is eligible to represent that state, or in other words that the only people who are eligible are the state's residents. – phoog Apr 2 '16 at 1:04
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    Going to the core question, "inhabitant" and "resident" are close synonyms in these context. – ohwilleke Sep 13 '18 at 17:45
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The comments have basically covered this, but: It's a slightly weird parallel structure ("who shall not be at least 25, and been a citizen for 7 years, and who shall not be a resident"). The Constitution is not written in fluid 21st-century English. But the obviously correct way to parse the sentence is that no one can be a representative who isn't a 25-year-old or older who's been a citizen for at least 7 years; furthermore, no one can be a representative who wasn't a resident of the state they represent when they were elected.

With some parts of the Constitution (like the Second Amendment), the drafting results in actual disputes about the intended meaning. With other parts (like here), only one reading makes any sense. It's the same with the requirements to be President. The Constitution says "No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President," which could be read as "you're not eligible unless, when the Constitution was adopted, you were either a citizen of the US or a natural-born citizen." But that's a silly reading, so "at the time of the Adoption" is read as only applying to "a Citizen of the United States:" natural-born citizens are eligible period, and people who were born before the US was a thing but were citizens by the time the Constitution was adopted were grandfathered in.

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It's actually the correct use of the English language. When using 'and' in a sentence; the first phrase or subject of the sentence should translate to the connecting sentences. For example, "Sally went to the market, the movies, and the pharmacy." You can easily replace 'the market' with 'the movies' or 'the pharmacy'. In this case, 'who shall not' is stated where we commonly just use 'and' now.

  • Not incorrect, just disfavored as a matter of drafting style these days. – ohwilleke Sep 13 '18 at 17:44
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This is how I looked at this: No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years,

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have been seven Years a Citizen of the United States,

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

It helps a little, but our language has definitely changed over 2+ centuries.

protected by Community Jan 15 at 21:23

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