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Author Topic: Original 1st Amendment proposed, Impact if passed?
Ben
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I've been doing a bit of study of the Constitution lately, it's structure, checks and balances, how amendments were ratified. I checked other amendments that have been attempted, and how they were voted on, the whole process, etc. Got to thinking that the first proposed Amendment was ratified by several states, and is still considered pending ratification by other states due to lack of language establishing a date for it to expire. The language of the amendment is a bit inconsistent at the end when it changes to "nor more than" instead of "nor less than" which might have caused problems at a certain population point but is not an issue at our current population now? I'm curious what you think would be the result if enough states ratified it and it took effect?

quote:
Article the first. After the first enumeration required by the first article of the Constitution, there shall be one Representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than one hundred Representatives, nor less than one Representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of Representatives shall amount to two hundred; after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than two hundred Representatives, nor more than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons.
Taking an absolute text approach, we could end up with anywhere from 200 to 6174 representatives in the House depending how that "more than" bit is taken, and if it is considered by the Supreme Court to let Congress tweak the numbers to maintain status quo or not. However, the whole amendment could be taken as describing an algorithm that resets the minimum number of representatives every hundred representatives, and ratchets up an additional 10 thousand people for each representative, in which case we'd have somewhere around 1625 representatives each representing 190k people, and approaching 1700+ each representing 200k people at the next census.

And that's just the House to start, not considering redistricting, and how many offices and meeting spaces... though each state could establish local offices and have them telecommute their votes, if Congress sets its rules to allow that. But then what about the Electoral College voting for President? I'm sure there's other issues I haven't thought through yet.

[ February 08, 2011, 11:38 PM: Message edited by: Ben ]

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JWatts
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I suspect that a legislative chamber numbering in the thousands would be completely dysfunctional.

As far as I can tell the largest state legislative chamber in the world currently is the German Parliament with 622 members.

The USSR's parliament was 1500 at one point but was reduced in size over time to less than 600.

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RickyB
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I agree with JWatts. It's simply unwieldy.
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Ben
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I agree that matters would be rather difficult to manage with such numbers, though for any Star Wars fans who haven't repudiated the prequels, it'd be quite an opportunity to lobby for the creation of a certain Grand Convocation Chamber design. And given how unlikely it is that other states will take up the amendment and ratify it after so long, this is more an exercise in thinking through consequences, both intended and unintended.

I must admit there is part of me that would like to see something like this happen with the algorithm approach I mentioned, for better representation and opportunities for independents and smaller political parties to get a foothold.

Thinking about how this might effect the Electoral College, it might reduce one argument for abolishing it, as the apportionment of so many representatives would make the two additional votes for each state a relatively small factor in the overall count.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
I suspect that a legislative chamber numbering in the thousands would be completely dysfunctional.

The interesting question that it raises there is whether that suggests that a natural limit to the size of a population that can be reasonably and functionally represented exists based on the maximum useful number of people that a representative can successfully stand for and the maximum number of representatives that can operate as a legislative body on a functional level.
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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by Ben:
I agree that matters would be rather difficult to manage with such numbers, though for any Star Wars fans who haven't repudiated the prequels, it'd be quite an opportunity to lobby for the creation of a certain Grand Convocation Chamber design.

Well we all know how that ended don't we? Enough said.

However come to think of it, there is a striking resemblance between Representative Hank Johnson and Senator Jar Jar Binks.

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velcro
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Am I missing something? It says "that there shall not be less than two hundred Representatives, nor more than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons." Right now we have not less that 200 Representatives (435 is not less than 200) and we have one representative for every 690,000 persons, which means we have .07 Representatives for every 50,000 persons. (.07 is not more than 1) So we are in compliance now.

It doesn't say "one representative for no more than 50,000 persons", it says "no more than one Representative" Pretty clear to me. And congress can do anything it wants within the range allowed.

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JWatts
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Congress passed a law fixing the number at 435. Apportionment Act

[ February 09, 2011, 10:04 PM: Message edited by: JWatts ]

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Ben
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Yep velcro, I don't see that we would really have anything much change if the amendment is read that way, just pondering what might happen if the amendment was passed and the Supreme Court said Congress couldn't limit representation that way, or if it was taken as an algorithm. A little fun diversion from serious current events is all that's happening here, unless you've head something about states moving forward on ratifying that?
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Ben
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Though thinking on it a bit as velcro said, we only have .07 Representatives for every 50,000 people, which means we have that much less representation than people did back when. What was that whole thing about no taxation without representation? Should it then follow that with less representation, there should be less taxation? I think I recall something about a debate over how people were to be counted and taxed accordingly somewhere related to the drafting of the Constitution... Here's my derail of the thread if anyone wants to run with that.
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TheRallanator
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I dunno if it would be impossible to manage, but a Congress with thousands of Representatives would do a fine job of making sure that the voice of virtually all Congressmen (and by extension the will of their constituents) goes unheard. Only party and factional leaders and the chairs of some of the more important committees would ever get more than a small handful of opportunities to address the Congress in their entire political careers. Basically it'd do an even more effective job than the current setup of reducing the vast bulk of Congressmen to the level of voting blocs for the movers and shakers to squabble over.
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Hannibal
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"which means we have that much less representation than people did back when"

IMO that is wrong.

back then there were no means of communication. we are talking about the 18th century here. even the 19th.

Today a representative can easily represent far more people, simply by having an email.

The 1:50,000 is an archaic ratio. back than the people thought its impossible for a single person to technically represent more people than that.

Today this consideration is meaningless.
people dont need to ride two weeks in the snow to have a talk with their rep, they can simply email him or post in his facebook page.

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TomDavidson
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If we really, really, really want representatives to reflect a smaller constituency, we should take state government seriously.
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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
If we really, really, really want representatives to reflect a smaller constituency, we should take state government seriously.

That's a really revolutionary idea. Kind of similar to this.
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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
If we really, really, really want representatives to reflect a smaller constituency, we should take state government seriously.

Absolutely! [Big Grin]
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by Hannibal:
Today this consideration is meaningless.
people dont need to ride two weeks in the snow to have a talk with their rep, they can simply email him or post in his facebook page.

That talks about how well they can communicate with the representative, not how accurately that representative's vote reflects the preferences and interests of those people. The question is one of what appropriate granularity is, not how to deal with lack of input.
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TomDavidson
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I'm not kidding about the state government thing, either. One of the reasons that I always tend to object when someone paints me as a member of the "ultra-left" or even a traditional "liberal" is that I am at heart an anti-federalist.
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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
I'm not kidding about the state government thing, either. One of the reasons that I always tend to object when someone paints me as a member of the "ultra-left" or even a traditional "liberal" is that I am at heart an anti-federalist.

I'm not exactly an anti-Federalist, but I do believe the current Federal government (the last 50 years or so) has become the defacto solution to all our problems.

However, any attempted one sized solution to a very large, widely dispersed, population will never quite fit with such a wide range of view points. The Federal governments historical solution has been to lavish large amounts of money on the problem. We are nearing the end of that ability as the nations debt has climbed to historically large percentages.

There is no reason that health care reform couldn't have been tackled at a state by state basis. So if the blue states wanted to adopt and fund a Massachusetts model they could and if the red states wanted to take another approach they could. If the blue states model proved successful, over time red states would follow them.

I do think some of the sections of the health care reform effort should be national in scope. The administration pushing for national health care record standards is a historical function of the Federal government.

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