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§ 131. “A Resident.”

A resident is defined as one who dwells at a place which is his home or fixed abode for some time. An inhabitant is one who dwells permanently in a place, as distinguished from a transient resident or visitor. The term of residence within the limits of the Commonwealth, necessary to qualify a person to be a member of the Federal Parliament, is fixed by the Constitution at three years. It has been held that residence is not broken by a temporary absence if there is an animus revertendi. (Holborn Union v. Chertsey Union [1884] 54 L.J. M.C. 53.)

The Constitution of the United States of America, supra, provides that no person shall be a representative who is not, when elected, “an inhabitant of the State” in which he is chosen. The Constitution of the Commonwealth gives a wider qualification, by making a person who has resided for three years within the limits of the Commonwealth qualified to be a member. The requirement of a three years' residence within the limits of the Commonwealth is insisted on in order to secure the services of members substantially identified with the Commonwealth, but not necessarily identified for three years with any particular State, as “an inhabitant of that State.”

The word “resident” in this Constitution is not synonymous with “inhabitant.” An inhabitant of a State within the meaning of the American Constitution is one who in good faith is a member of the State and subject to its jurisdiction and to its laws, and entitled to all the privileges and advantages conferred thereby. (Electors v. Bailey, Cl. and H. 411.) Mr. McCrary, referring to this distinction, says, “it would seem that the framers of the constitution were impressed with a deep sense of the importance of an actual bona fide residence of the representative among the constituency—a residence in the sense of actual living among them and co-mingling with them.” (McCrary on Elections, § 289; Baker, Annot. Const. 5.)

The Constitution of the Commonwealth does not insist upon such a permanent residence in and identification with one State as a qualification of membership of the national Chamber. It recognizes citizenship, and residence within the Commonwealth for a period of three years, as a sufficient qualification, and one calculated to promote the view that a member of the national House is not a member for a State, or for the people of a State, but for a division which includes a quota of the people of the Commonwealth.

“The choice of members of Congress is locally limited by law and by custom. Under the Constitution every representative and every senator must when elected be an inhabitant of the State whence he is elected. Moreover, State law has in many, and custom practically in all, States, established that a representative must be resident in the congressional district which elects him. The only exceptions to this practice occur in large cities where occasionally a man is chosen who lives in a different district of the city from that which returns him; but such exceptions are extremely rare. This restriction surprises a European, who thinks it must be found highly inconvenient both to candidates, as restricting their field of choice in looking for a constituency, and to constituencies, as excluding persons, however eminent, who do not reside in their midst. To Americans, however, it seems so obviously reasonable that I found very few persons, even in the best educated classes, who would admit its policy to be disputable.” (Bryce, Amer. Comm. 1. p. 186.)

“It is remarkable that the original English practice required the member to be a resident of the county or borough which returned him to Parliament. This is said to be a requirement at common law (witness the words ‘de comitatu tuo’ in the writ for the election addressed to the sheriff); and was expressly enacted by the statute 1 Henry V. cap. 1. But already in the time of Elizabeth the requirement was not enforced; and in 1681 Lord Chief Justice Pemberton ruled that ‘little regard was to be had to that ancient statute 1 Henry V. forasmuch as common practice hath been ever since to the contrary.’ The statute was repealed by 14 Geo. III, cap. 50. (See Anson, Law and Custom of the Constitution, vol. i. p. 83; Stubbs, Constit. Hist. vol. iii. p. 424.) Dr. Stubbs observes that the object of requiring residence in early times was to secure ‘that the House of Commons should be a really representative body.’ Dr. Hearn (Government of England) suggests that the requirement had to be dropped because it was hard to find the country gentlemen (or indeed burgesses) possessing the legal knowledge and statesmanship which the constitutional struggles of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries demanded.” (Id. p. 188.)




  ― 478 ―

“The English habit of allowing a man to stand for a place with which he is personally unconnected would doubtless be favoured by the fact that many ministers are necessarily members of the House of Commons. The inconvenience of excluding a man from the service of the nation because he could not secure his return in the place of his residence would be unendurable. No such reason exists in America, because ministers cannot be members of Congress. In France, Germany, and Italy the practice seems to resemble that of England, i.e., many members sit for places where they do not reside, though of course a candidate residing in the place he stands for has a certain advantage.” (Id. p. 188.)

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