Citizenship of Natural Persons.

For purposes of diversity jurisdiction, state citizenship is determined by the concept of domicile1118 rather than of mere residence.1119 That is, while the Court’s definition has varied throughout the cases,1120 a person is a citizen of the state in which he has his true, fixed, and permanent home and principal establishment and to which he intends to return whenever he is absent from it.1121 Acts may disclose intention more clearly and decisively than declarations.1122 One may change his domicile in an instant by taking up residence in the new place and by intending to remain there indefinitely and one may obtain the benefit of diversity jurisdiction by so changing for that reason alone,1123 provided the change is more than a temporary expedient.1124

If the plaintiff and the defendant are citizens of different states, diversity jurisdiction exists regardless of the state in which suit is brought.1125 Chief Justice Marshall early established that in multi-party litigation, there must be complete diversity, that is, that no party on one side could be a citizen of any state of which any party on the other side was a citizen.1126 It has now apparently been decided that this requirement flows from the statute on diversity rather than from the constitutional grant and that therefore minimal diversity is sufficient.1127 The Court has also placed some issues beyond litigation in federal courts in diversity cases, apparently solely on policy grounds.1128

Footnotes

1118
Chicago & N.W.R.R. v. Ohle, 117 U.S. 123 (1886). [Back to text]
1119
Sun Printing & Pub. Ass’n v. Edwards, 194 U.S. 377 (1904). [Back to text]
1120
Knox v. Greenleaf, 4 U.S. (4 Dall.) 360 (1802); Shelton v. Tiffin, 47 U.S. (6 How.) 163 (1848); Williamson v. Osenton, 232 U.S. 619 (1914). [Back to text]
1121
Stine v. Moore, 213 F.2d 446, 448 (5th Cir. 1954). [Back to text]
1122
Shelton v. Tiffin, 47 U.S. (6 How.) 163 (1848). [Back to text]
1123
Williamson v. Osenton, 232 U.S. 619 (1914). [Back to text]
1124
Jones v. League, 59 U.S. (18 How.) 76 (1855). [Back to text]
1125
28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). [Back to text]
1126
Strawbridge v. Curtiss, 7 U.S. (3 Cr.) 267 (1806). [Back to text]
1127
In State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. v. Tashire, 386 U.S. 523, 530–31 (1967), holding that congressional provision in the interpleader statute of minimal diversity, 28 U.S.C. § 1335(a)(1), was valid, the Court said of Strawbridge, “Chief Justice Marshall there purported to construe only ‘The words of the act of Congress,’ not the Constitution itself. And in a variety of contexts this Court and the lower courts have concluded that Article III poses no obstacle to the legislative extension of federal jurisdiction, founded on diversity, so long as any two adverse parties are not co-citizens.” Of course, the diversity jurisdictional statute not having been changed, complete diversity of citizenship, outside the interpleader situation, is still required. In class actions, only the citizenship of the named representatives is considered and other members of the class can be citizens of the same state as one or more of the parties on the other side. Supreme Tribe of Ben-Hur v. Cauble, 255 U.S. 356 (1921); Snyder v. Harris, 394 U.S. 332, 340 (1969). [Back to text]
1128
In domestic relations cases and probate matters, the federal courts will not act, though diversity exists. Barber v. Barber, 62 U.S. (21 How.) 582 (1858); Ex parte Burrus, 136 U.S. 586 (1890); In re Broderick’s Will, 88 U.S. (21 Wall.) 503 (1875). These cases merely enunciated the rule, without justifying it; when the Court squarely faced the issue quite recently, it adhered to the rule, citing justifications. Ankenbrandt v. Richards, 504 U.S. 689 (1992). [Back to text]