Corporations and the Original Meaning of 'Citizens' in Article III

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See all articles by Mark Moller

Mark Moller

DePaul University - College of Law

Lawrence B. Solum

Georgetown University Law Center

Date Written: March 3, 2020

Abstract

Article III grants confers the judicial power of the United States over controversies between "citizens" of different states. In Section 1332(c) of Title 28 of the United States Code, Congress has provided that for the purposes of diversity jurisdiction, corporations are citizens of the state in which they are incorporated and the state in which their principal place of business is located. This raises the question whether corporations are citizens within the original public meaning of Article III of the Constitution. This Article demonstrates that in 1787 the word "citizen" referred only to natural persons and therefore that corporations cannot be considered "citizens" within the original public meaning of Article III. As a consequence, Section 1332(c) is unconstitutional from an originalist perspective.

Keywords: Diversity, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Citizen, Corporation, Constitution, Article III, Originalism

Suggested Citation

Moller, Mark and Solum, Lawrence B., Corporations and the Original Meaning of 'Citizens' in Article III (March 3, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=

Mark Moller

DePaul University - College of Law ( email )

25 E. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL Cook County 60604
United States

Lawrence B. Solum (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

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