One Vote, One Person





The fight for “One Vote, One Person” in the case of  Clemons v. U.S. Department of Commerce was decided upon on Monday, December 13, 2010.

“The judgment of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi is vacated, and the case is remanded with instructions to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction.”

Scott Sharpen shared his disappointment after a two year fight to bring this case before the U.S. Supreme Court. “The lack of jurisdiction” reference is the Court saying that it doesn’t have the authority to get involved. While we strongly disagree, the Court gets to make the call.”

His passion for the Constitution and love of country is evident in the personal dedication he gave to press forward in this difficult battle to correct the unconstitutionality of  The Re-apportionment Act of 1929 and equal representation.

Scott stated, “The Constitution is self evident that it is apportioned equally.”

Article I, Section 2, Clause 3 of the Constitution reads,

The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least oneRepresentative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

Up until 1920, Congress had applied this rule of re-apportionment, growing the House, as the voice of the people, proportionally after each census.  In 1920, Congress went against the Constitution.  The House wanted to grow to 483, but the Senate realized that their power was threatened and thus they killed the bill for 483 House seats.

The Re-apportionment Act of 1929 was the result of this stalemate and has locked the number of House seats at 435. Though the population continued to grow substantially, Congress ignored the Constitution and the intent of the Founding Fathers that the House was to be the representation closest to the people and reflect the population in terms of growth.

Equality of the people and equality of representation is the fundamental goal of the House of Representatives.  Whereas in 1790, each House member represented approximately 33,000 people, the average size of each House district today is over 700,000 people and growing. This fundamental goal set forth in the Constitution has been radically altered by the number 435.  No longer are “We the people” the voice of government, through representation, but rather a block of 700,000 per representative.  A House Representative can not possibly do what is best for his or her constituents, individually, with such a disproportionate number to represent.

The Government argued in Clemons v. U.S. Department of Commerce that “It has always been this way.  As long as we pick a number between 50 and 10,000, we are fine.”  Yet, it has not always been this way and only in the last 100 years has the number not grown with population.  At the state levels, equal representation has been Constitutionally mandated by the Supreme Court.  In Westberry v. Sanders (1964), the Court stated that representation “needs to be as equal as practical.”

Karcher v. Daggett (1983), the court said that the deviation in New Jersey districts at 0.6984% was too great, and must be accurate within a fraction.  The national level of deviation found in Montana with a population of 805,00 and Wyoming with a population of 495,00 is an 82% deviation. The federal government is the only governing entitiy that doesn’t uphold a one person, one vote standard.

Gregory Korte, of USA TODAY wrote, “Some political scientists see other benefits to a bigger House. It would put members closer to constituents and provide more opportunities for women and minorities to get elected, says Brian Frederick of Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts, author of Congressional Representation and Constituents: The Case for Increasing the House of Representatives.

If the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of  equal representation at all other levels of government across the United States, it certainly has jurisdiction and a mandate to apply the same standards at a federal level.  The newest census calculations for apportionment are demonstrated in this interactive chart here. The balance of power will shift in light of the new census numbers and perhaps that will raise the ire of a few, but this matter must continue to be acted upon, even if the Courts and Congress refuse to act within the guidelines of the Constitution.  It may be that a movement of the people, a grassroots uprising that calls for “One vote, One Person”, is what will be needed to regain a truly democratic body in the House.

“[T]he people are the only legitimate fountain of power, and it is from them that the constitutional charter, under which the several branches of government hold their power, is derived.” – Federalist No. 49

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