Return the House of Representatives to the People
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Section IV
Congress vs. the Constitution

 

By what authority may Congress unilaterally deed to themselves, for perpetuity, political principalities of unlimited size?
 

If Article the first had been ratified by the states, Congress would have been explicitly authorized to “regulate” the ratio of House Representatives to population.

The Constitution requires proportional representation. It does not authorize Congress to permanently fix the size of the House. Clearly, Congress has usurped this authority in order to fossilize their power structure.

As a consequence of abandoning proportional representation, there is a vast disparity in district sizes across the nation which is in violation of the Constitutional principle requiring equal representation.

The purpose of this section is to:

  • briefly explain the one-person-one-vote principle;
     
  • demonstrate how the House is in clear violation of that principle; and,
     
  • illustrate the effect of unequal representation across the country.
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 “If the [ratio of] representation [is] obtained by any process not prescribed in the Constitution, it becomes arbitrary and inadmissible.”

Thomas Jefferson, 1792.
(virginia.edu)
 

 

CONTENTS

In This Section:

A. One-Person, One-Vote 
 
The One-Person-One-Vote rule requires that each district be “as mathematically equal as reasonably possible.”
 

B. Some Districts are More Equal
    than Others

 
Why are 525,000 citizens in Rhode Island politically equal to 745,000 in Utah?

 
C. One-Person, One-Fractional-Vote
 
The citizens of some states are over-represented in the national legislature, while those of other states are unfairly under-represented.
 

 
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 A.  One-Person, One-Vote

 
The “One-Person-One-Vote” rule requires that each district in any single-member district election system be “as mathematically equal as reasonably possible.” This is also called the “no malapportionment rule.” Under this rule, the geographic size of a district does not matter; instead, it is the population size that is important.
 
According to Southern Poverty Law Center:

The “congressional district rule” requires strict equality of population for each congressional district. This rule comes from Article I of the U.S. Constitution, and it requires congressional districts to be “as mathematically equal as reasonably possible.”

The purpose of this principle is to prevent politicians from unfairly dividing political power among districts of different sizes as unequal representation exaggerates the voting power of those in smaller districts at the expense of those in larger districts.
 
In other words, the smaller your district, the more effect (or clout) that you have as a citizen. For example, you live in District A, which has a population of 200,000. Your friend lives in District B, which has a population of 50,000. Each district elects only one representative. However, as a citizen, your friend in District B has four times the significance than you. In more practical terms, the person living in a district that is one-fourth the size of yours is more likely to know his representative and be able to actually communicate with him or her.
 
Without the requirement for equally-sized districts, the problem of gerrymandering would become even greater. The Supreme Court’s one-person, one-vote principle attempts to minimize, if not eliminate, those disparities. This rule has been applied to all federal, state and local assemblies across the United States, with only one single exception: the House of Representatives.

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 B. Some Districts are More Equal than Others

 
In contrast to having districts “as mathematically equal as reasonably possible,” there currently is an egregious variation in House district sizes nationwide. House districts in the United States range from 495 thousand people (in Wyoming) to 905 thousand people (in Montana). Regardless of their size, they are all politically equal in the House of Representatives; therefore, their citizens are not. Chart B1 (below) illustrates the range in district sizes for all states.
 

 
In Chart B1, note that 495,000 citizens in Wyoming carry the same political weight (in our national legislature) as do 525,000 citizens in Rhode Island, 745,000 in Utah, and 805,000 in Montana.
 
If the House of Representatives had maintained proportional representation — as required by the Constitution — House district sizes would be equal sized nationwide.
 
Moreover, this disparity in district sizes among the states will continue to grow over time as the average district size continues to grow. (This is caused by the average House district growing larger than the greatest common denominator.)
 
For more information about the historic growth in the national average district size, see Section III B.

 
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 C.  One-Person, One-Fractional-Vote

 
A gross inequality in citizen significance results from the disparity in district sizes explained above. Instead of having districts that are smaller and equal sized, we now have neither.
 
The Constitution established the minimum district size at one Representative for every thirty-thousand inhabitants (1:30,000). The House version of the first Constitutional amendment ever proposed by Congress (which was never ratified — see Article the first) would have set the maximum district size at one Representative for every fifty-thousand persons (1:50,000).
 
Having abandoned proportional representation altogether, Chart B1 (above) provides the ratios we have today:

  • Wyoming — 1:495,000 (i.e., one representative for every 495,000 citizens)
  • Rhode Island — 1:525,000
  • Utah — 1:745,000
  • Montanans —1:805,000

The inverse of these ratios is equal to the citizen’s political significance factor for each of these states. The resulting factors are extremely small — significantly less than the 0.0000333 significance factor which is the Constitutional standard (i.e., 1/30,000 ).
 
Chart C1 (below) compares the citizen’s significance factors for all 50 states. Citizens of those states listed at the top of the chart have an inferior political significance in the House of Representatives, while those listed at the bottom have superior political significance.
 

 
For example, starting at the bottom of the chart, voters in Wyoming (1.3) have 30% more significance than the national average (1.0), and nearly twice the significance of the citizens of Montana (.71). Iowa’s citizens (1.1) has 10% more clout than the national average, while Utah’s citizens have 13% less than the national average.

In other words, the citizens of the states at the top of the list (where the House districts are largest) are underfranchised, whereas the citizens of the states listed at the bottom are overfranchised.
 
The only way to eliminate this inequity is to significantly decrease the House district size (by increasing the number of Representatives). The larger the House, the smaller will be the variation of district sizes across the country.

 
    
The Supreme Court’s one-person-one-vote law of the land is vigorously applied to every elected governmental assembly in this great nation, every state, town and city hall — except one: the House of Representatives. If this principle is not applicable to the House, why should it be applicable to any other assembly?
 
Americans should be extremely concerned that Congress has grown so powerful as to be able to place itself above the Constitution. However, this may not be result of a deliberate conspiracy. Instead, we the people have been unwittingly forfeiting our democratic rights due to our ignorance of a few essential principles that were carefully set forth by the founders of this great country.

“Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations...”
 
— James Madison, Speech in the Virginia Convention, June 6, 1788 [Elliott's Debates, Page 87]

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“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free ... 
      it expects what never was and never will be.”

– Thomas Jefferson


Created: 12July2004
Last updated: 12Dec2004
© 2004 thirty-thousand.org

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