Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Do We Need a Bigger Congress?

Bruce Bartlett looks at the issue:
One problem that continues to fester is that the Constitution says no state may have fewer than one House member. This means that small states such as Wyoming, Vermont and North Dakota are overrepresented in the House — and other states are underrepresented. This is a violation of the principle of one person one vote, established by the Supreme Court in the 1964 case Reynolds v. Sims.
A number of political scientists and legal scholars now contend that an increase in the size of the House is necessary to relieve the growing malapportionment under the fixed size of 435, the minimum representation requirement and the mathematical formula used for reapportionment. Articles making this argument have appeared in Perspectives on Politics, Polity, the Washburn Law Journal, the New York University Journal of Legislation and Public Policy and The New York Times....
In 2009, some activists brought suit in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the law freezing the number of House members at 435. But it was rejected by a Federal District Court in 2010, which said the question was a political one for Congress to decide, and the Supreme Court refused to review the case.
In closing, let me note that according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the House of Representatives is on the very high side of population per representative at 729,000. The population per member in the lower house of other major countries is considerably smaller: Britain and Italy, 97,000; Canada and France, 114,000; Germany, 135,000; Australia, 147,000; and Japan, 265,000.
While I appreciate the idea that one person representing 729,000 people is pretty crazy, I just can't imagine how  many clowns we'd end up with if we halved the size of the districts.  If Jim Jordan is the best his district can offer, who else would get elected if the districts were cut in half.  We could use a better class of public servants instead of more of what we've got.

No comments:

Post a Comment