Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

America Has Problems

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, September 22, 2020

America has problems – 330,337,600 problems, to be exact.

That’s how many people – at least – are resident in the United States as of Tuesday, September 22, 2020.

Previously, there were 330,326,679 people in the USA yesterday.

PROBLEM: The House of Representatives is TOO SMALL.

FACTS: Following the 1910 Census, with the Apportionment Act of 1911, Congress set the number of Members in the House of Representatives at 435, to become effective March 1913. The 1910 Census found 92,228,496 people in our United States, so at that time, the ratio of Residents per Representative was 212,020 to 1. The ratio is now 759,396 to 1. If you feel like you’re not being represented in Congress… guess what? You’re NOT.

BACKGROUND: Apportionment refers to the process of establishing a number of Representatives to the States as set forth in the Constitution. As originally written, Article One, Section 2, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution initially provided that “The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at least one Representative.” However, the infamous “Three-Fifths Compromise” was also contained in that passage, and counted slaves (most of which were in the Southern states) as 3/5ths of a whole person for tax purposes (the cheapskates didn’t want to pay their fair share), also gave the Southern states control of the Congress, simply because there were more people in the South, than in the North.

Note also that the now-infamous “Three Fifths Compromise” as mentioned above was a concession to the Southern slave states, which had more people (free and slaves) than some Northern free states, but not more White (free) people. So because the matter was about taxation, if the slave states had to pay the “full rate” for slaves, they’d have to pay out much more money, so Southerners struck a compromise with Northern non-slave states to tax slaves – then identified as “all other Persons” – at three fifths the rate “of free Persons.”

After the Civil War, the first of those provisions were superseded by Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment which provided that,

“Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.”

The process of apportionment also determines the size of each state’s representation in the Electoral College under Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the Constitution, the number of electors (members of the Electoral College) of any state equals the size of its total congressional delegation (House plus Senate seats).

In Federalist No.55, either James Madison, or Alexander Hamilton (scholars cannot agree which) wrote from New York, February 13, 1788 in part that,

“…first, that so small a number of representatives will be an unsafe depositary of the public interests; secondly, that they will not possess a proper knowledge of the local circumstances of their numerous constituents; thirdly, that they will be taken from that class of citizens which will sympathize least with the feelings of the mass of the people, and be most likely to aim at a permanent elevation of the few on the depression of the many; fourthly, that defective as the number will be in the first instance, it will be more and more disproportionate, by the increase of the people, and the obstacles which will prevent a correspondent increase of the representatives.”

-and-

“a census is to be taken, when the number may be augmented to one for every thirty thousand inhabitants; and within every successive period of ten years, the census is to be renewed, and augmentations may continue to be made under the above limitation,” which reiterated that Constitutional principle, and ratio of 1 to 30,000.

However, in 1921, led by Republicans, Congress failed to reapportion the House as required by the Constitution. Their failure to obey the law was politically motivated, because the newly elected Republican majority feared the reapportionment would diminish their political futures and electoral prospects.

Had Congress obeyed the law and reapportioned according to the previous manner, the House would have increased to 483 seats, and many would have lost their seats due to population shifts. Plus, there was a picayune concern about where additional members would be seated. So by 1929, because of population growth, and failure to act, misrepresentation increased so significantly, that some states had districts TWICE as large as the average district size.

Pushed to the brink, Congress finally decided to act.

With Republican control of the House, the Senate, and the Presidency (the proverbial political “trifecta”), they wrote and passed the Reapportionment Act of 1929 which permanently set the size of the House at 435 and created a method for apportioning a constant 435 seats, where it has remained since.

 

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