Is Richard Lugar Eligible To Represent Indiana?

Dick Lugar sold his Indiana home 35 years ago but still lists it as his official residence.

Dick Lugar sold his Indiana home 35 years ago but still lists it as his official residence.

RTV6 (“Lugar Defends Himself On Residency Question–Longtime Senator Says He Meets Requirements“):

Sen. Richard Lugar defended himself during an appearance in Indianapolis on Monday that came days after opponents claimed that he isn’t qualified to run for office because he doesn’t live in the state.

Lugar said two attorneys general have affirmed his position that the Indianapolis address on his Indiana driver’s license is valid, even though he sold that home in 1977.

Lugar said he and his wife sold their house in Indianapolis because the only way they could afford to keep the family together and be part of their sons’ school and after-school activities was to move to Washington, D.C. full time and buy a home there.

Apparently, though, the 1982 opinion by the Indiana Attorney General was over whether Lugar had the eligibility to continue to vote in the district where he previously lived. The answer was that he did because he lived in the DC area on official government business representing the state. That’s reasonable enough; military personnel and other government employees have similar protections.

But Indiana University law professor John Hill notes that the US Constitution requires that members of Congress “inhabit” the state they represent. This comes from Article I, Section 2, Clause 2 which states:

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.

Neither Indiana law nor the opinions of its election officials have any bearing on the question of whether a Member is an “inhabitant” of the state. A series of court decisions have made clear that neither the states nor Congress can neither add to nor take away from the Constitutional requirements. As far as I can determine, however, there is no case law on what constitutes being an “inhabitant.” FindLaw’s invaluable “Annotated Constitution” provides all manner of case law on the larger question of qualifications but not on this question.

My own sense is that, of course Lugar is an Indiana resident. He pays taxes to Indiana. He was mayor of Indianapolis from 1968 to 1975. He’s represented the state in the Senate for 36 years. The fact that he lives in DC’s Virginia suburbs–and has for decades–doesn’t change that any more than a soldier or diplomat living in a series of overseas assignments takes away their residency.

For that matter, if living outside one’s state or district for a number of years serving as a politician in Washington does erode one’s ties to home, the mere pretense of keeping a hotel room  (as former President George H.W. Bush did for years) or apartment or even sprawling estate back home wouldn’t somehow make him more of a Hoosier.

 

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Ron Beasley says:

    Lugar’s real problem is not where he lives – he’s simply not nearly insane enough for today’s Republican party.

  2. alkali says:

    Requiring Senators to maintain two residences comes pretty close to imposing a wealth minimum on candidates.

  3. Rick Almeida says:

    @alkali:

    It does not at all. A thrift-conscious legislator could very well maintain an inexpensive residence in her home district and engage in some sort of communal living arrangement in DC.

  4. John Peabody says:

    Just use the military example- I happily paid taxes to Minnesota for 15 years of military service before I decided to switch to Virginia. Yer darn tootin’ I was a resident, you betcha! That’s that, then.

  5. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Rick Almeida:

    A thrift-conscious legislator could very well maintain an inexpensive residence in her home district and engage in some sort of communal living arrangement in DC.

    So the thrift conscious 50 year old senator with wife, family, and dog, lives in a communal hall of residence in Washington? What’s egregious about this is that this is even an issue being ginned up by his hard right opponent to smear Lugar. But this is where today’s GOP dwells.

  6. Hey Norm says:

    I’m pretty sure BOTH SIDES DO IT!!!

  7. Hey Norm says:

    I do have one question…How long can you reside in the State of Indiana before you are required to register your car in the State? Has Lugar spent that amount of time in Indiana for any one stretch for the last 10 years?
    And why did he have to buy a house in D.C.? Plenty of these guys live in their offices. Frankly I’m against that type of thing…but if it’s good enough for Boy Wonder Paul Ryan…it should be good enough for Lugar.

  8. reliapundit says:

    YOU WROTE:

    For that matter, if living outside one’s state or district for a number of years serving as a politician in Washington does erode one’s ties to home, the mere pretense of keeping a hotel room (as former President George H.W. Bush did for years) or apartment or even sprawling estate back home wouldn’t somehow make him more of a Hoosier.

    IT WOULD HOWEVER MAKE HIM LESS OF A PHONY AND A LIAR AND A A CHEAT – LIKE MOST OF THE OTHER CAREER POLITICIANS HE SERVES WITH.

  9. Doubter4444 says:

    @Brummagem Joe:
    That’s the point: it’s being used by the Hair club for Men, Club for Growth fanatics.

  10. Mark says:

    I hope he is eligible to represent Indiana because we need as many sane Republicans in office as we can get.

  11. Latino_in_Boston says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    In a way it is indeed where he lives–the reality based world–that is causing problems for him.

  12. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doubter4444:

    That’s the point: it’s being used by the Hair club for Men, Club for Growth fanatics.

    Ah..in joke…never heard of it.

  13. PD Shaw says:

    The language in the Constitution is similar in design to the one for Presidents: To qualify for the office, the person must have “been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.” There were questions about Eisenhower’s residency, but I do not believe any court challenge was offered and its not clear whether a court would address this type of issue.

  14. Ernieyeball says:

    …when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

    How literal can we be? Does “when elected” mean the new congressman can move out of the jurisdiction once polling is over?

  15. Neil Hudelson says:

    Of course it doesn’t really matter whether or not he lives in Indiana. It’s about a tea-party backed candidate looking to uproot one of the last sane Republicans around, and a Democratic candidate (Representative Donnelly) who sees good political optics.

    The only way someone as beloved in Indiana as Lugar goes down is with an attack from two sides, and a moderate/independent base that doesn’t come out to vote.

    Lugar will survive his primary, but will have to expend most of his war chest to do.

    And today he gave the democratic candidate fantastic fodder when he said “I don’t know what the address on my drivers license is.” (On NPR this morning, so I don’t have a link–it may not be an exact quote).

  16. JohnMcC says:

    I understand that in the past 35yrs there’s been a substantial change in the transportation system in this country. And that when Mr Lugar arrived in D.C. it was lots more common for Senators to buy homes and move their families. But that now many Congressmen consider it ‘normal’ to commute to DC from their districts or states. But down here under this rock, I can’t be too sure.

  17. Fred Bailey says:

    If “Mr” Lugar was not a resident when he was last elected, he does not qualify to be a senator.
    If I were him, I would call an Indiana real estate agent today.

    He is not a Senator, per United States Constitution

  18. superdestroyer says:

    It shows a lack of judgement and awareness that Lugar did not maintain a residence in Indiana. The Democrats made the fact that Rick Santorum’s familiy was living in Leesburg Va a issue during Santorum’s reelection campaign.

    The lack of connection to their district was used against many long term Democrats back in the 1970’s and 1980’s. It was one of the reasons that the Democrats lost their hold on the south in the 1980’s.

    It should be obvious that Lugar would spend more time worrying about internal arms control than the economy of Indiana, the schools of Indiana, the quality of life in Indiana when he has so little connection with Indiana.