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Fundamental Rights, Other Rights

A duration of stay required by state and local laws that entitles a person to the legal protection and benefits provided by applicable statutes.

States have required state residency for a variety of rights, including the right to vote, the right to run for public office, the ability to practice a profession, and the ability to receive public assistance. The courts have invalidated some residency requirements because they violate the EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE of the FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT, while allowing others to stand because there is a compelling state interest.

There are two types of residency requirements. A bona fide residency requirement asks a person to establish that she actually lives at a certain location and usually is demonstrated by the address listed on a driver's license, a voter registration card, a lease, an income tax return, property tax bills, or utilities bills. If a person has conducted a substantial amount of business in a state, some states will recognize that person as an actual resident and grant her certain advantages of residency. Courts have recognized the validity of imposing bona fide requirements in order for a person to receive certain rights from the states.

A durational residency requirement obligates a person to show that, in addition to being a bona fide resident of the state or its subdivision (county, city, town, school district), she has resided in the location for an additional period of time. Attempts by states to make certain fundamental rights conditional upon the durational residency of the person applying for such benefits have been challenged in court.


Foster, Charles C. 1998. "The Long Road to Legal Residency." New Jersey Law Journal (Feburary 2).

Moffett, Toby. 1973. Nobody's Business: The Political Intruder's Guide to Everyone's State Legislature. Old Greenwich, Conn.: Chatham.

Ross, Donald K. 1973. A Public Citizen's Action Manual. New York: Grossman.

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