An interesting conversation took place while standing in line for “Terminator”, the newest roller coaster at Magic Mountain. We were visiting the park on home school day and enjoying the conversation and friendship with a fellow home schooling family, when Scott Scharpen began to share his passion for our Nation and her Constitution.
“I was preparing to give my kids a brief over view of the Constitution, when in my preparation ran across this profound observation.” Mr. Scharpen said. “When I compared the composition of the House of Representatives in the Constitution with what we have today, I saw a big disconnect. Specifically, the Constitution says that ‘the number of representatives shall not exceed one for every 30,000,’ yet today we only have 435 reps, which equates to one rep for every 700,000 people. So I then asked the dangerous ‘Why?’ question.”
The result of this lesson in the Constitution is significant as a lawsuit against the federal government was filed on September 17, 2009 to rectify the unconstitutionality of disproportionate representation in the House of Representatives as per the Constitution and Federalist Papers 55 and 56 “which explicitly promised, without qualification, that there would be one Representative for every thirty-thousand inhabitants.”
The current average district size in comparison to that of the first Congresses is substantially disproportionate. According to Apportionment.US:
The average district size has increased substantially since the first census of 1790.
1790 – 1 for every ~ 33,000
1910 – 1 for every ~ 210,000
2000 – 1 for every ~ 647,000
2010 – 1 for every ~ 700,000 (projected)
Over the next few weeks, I will be exploring this subject and keeping the readers abreast of the lawsuit. As Scott has said, this will “bring about perhaps the most significant change in the federal government structure in nearly a century.” One can imagine, a change this substantial will be strongly challenged by the powers that be, however what the Founders penned in the Constitution can not be ignored.
In 1920 Congress, after one hundred thirty years of growth in the House of Representatives, a stalemate ensued over re-apportionment and Congress froze the number of the House to 435 members. This legislation is unconstitutional as it changed the Constitution without using the amendment process. The Reapportionment Act of 1929 is the reason that we now have 435 members in Congress and that states like Montana are grossly under represented. According to Approtionment.US
The inequality today is severe and unjust. The primary measure that the Supreme Court has used to determine voter equality is to compare the largest and smallest districts. According to the 2000 census, Montana was the most under-represented and Wyoming was the most over-represented. In simple terms, it took 1.83 Montana voters to equal just 1 Wyoming voter, which is grossly unfair. Using the math calculation as applied in the 1983 Supreme Court case Karcher v. Daggett, the collective deviation of the largest and smallest districts from the “ideal” district size was 63.38%. Interestingly, the Court declared as unconstitutional a deviation of 0.6984% in Karcher, which is over 90 times smaller than the current deviation!
One day after filing the case, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Edith H. Jones, approved the request on Friday September 18th, 2009. If the plaintiffs prevail, the case will be moved to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Most are not aware of the under representation, though they most certainly feel it during election years, or in times such as these, when their representative turns a deaf ear to the voice of the constituent. The time is ripe for change as the American people have seen first hand what too much power does in the hands of 435. The Constitutional standard of “one person one vote” has not been practiced at the Federal level for well over a century and it is time to give the power back to the people through equal representation.