Tuesday, October 17, 2006

300 Million Divided by 30,000 Equals 10,000

This blog poses and answers the question, “Where is our US Congress of 10,100 members?”

Our Congress, simply stated, is not built as the US Constitution dictates. The US Congress, by constitutional law, should have 100 US Senators (two per state) and 10,000 US Representatives. The words in Article 1 of the US Constitution are clear: “The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand.” When you divide 300 million by 30,000 it equals 10,000 US Representatives.

So where is everyone?

The answer is We the People have forgotten a constitutional right, the right to representation. It is a right written into our Constitution in Article 1 and ratified by all 50 states. Simply stated, the right to representation is the right of groups to be included in We the People at the ratio of one Representative for every 30,000 people. Congress has taken, that is, usurped that right from We the People, but as the right remains in the Constitution, we just have to ask for it back.


At 1:29 AM, Blogger Ian said...

The Constitution says the number of representatives shall not EXCEED one for every 30,000, that is, given a population of 300 million, there cannot be MORE THAN 10,000 representatives. The clause you cite sets a maximum number of legislators, not a minimum.

At 10:03 AM, Blogger Bryan Brickner said...

Hi Ian,
The founders interpreted, discussed, and used the words "shall not exceed" to mean shall not be greater than 30,000. See Federalist #57 and #58 as well as President Washington's first veto on 5 April 1792. For a contemporary analysis, see Akhil Reed Amar, America's Constitution (2005).

Three hundred million divided by 30,000 equals a minimum of 10,000 Representatives.


At 1:22 AM, Blogger Ian said...

Hi Byran,
Having followed your posts with John Shaw, I think I understand your point of view. But my reading of the text of the Constitution is the same as his.

You seem to be treating the text of the Constitution as if it says "The number of representatives shall not be LESS THAN one for every 30,000 people." If it said that, then you would indeed need 10,000 or so legislators for a population of 300 million.
But it doesn't say that, and treating the clause as if "exceed" and "less than" mean the same thing is inaccurate.
Perhaps the founders did think one representative for every 30,000 people was about right, but they did not codify that wish into the actual text of the Constitution.

At 7:51 AM, Blogger Bryan Brickner said...

Hi Ian,
Oh yes, it is ratified and codified. Here is President George Washington’s veto message as quoted in the Journal of the US House of Representatives; the pertinent quote is the last line of Washington's second point:
~ ~
United States, [Philadelphia] April 5th, 1792.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

I have maturely considered the act passed by the two Houses, entitled “An act for an apportionment of Representatives among the several States, according to the first enumeration;” and I return it to your House, wherein it originated, with the following objections:

First. The Constitution has prescribed that Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers: and there is no one proportion or divisor, which, applied to the respective numbers of the States, will yield the number and allotment of Representatives proposed by the bill.

Second. The Constitution has also provided, that the number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand; which restriction is, by the context, and by fair and obvious construction, to be applied to the separate and respective numbers of the States: And the bill has allotted to eight of the States more than one for every thirty thousand.

G. Washington.
~ ~

Then, neither the Senate nor the House could muster the two-thirds majority to override Washington’s veto. So that means "An Act for an apportionment of Representatives among the several States according to the first enumeration", failed and was the nation’s first successful veto.

That is our heritage - the nation's first veto - and 30,000 is the ratified number. The founders also had no faith in letting the Congress set the number - thus Article the first of the Bill or Rights and its new numbers of 40,000 and 50,000.


At 3:22 PM, Blogger Evisum said...

Historically if you track the House growth from 1789 (1 for 47,000) to 1911 (before the Public law 62-5) the growth is about 660%. Apply the same growth from 1912 to date it is about 2400 members.

Did a video

Stan Klos

At 1:51 PM, Blogger Steven M Scotten said...

OK, fine, so the Constitution says "shall not exceed" rather than "shall not be less than." So what? It means if a state sends too few representatives it's no big deal. States should want to have as many votes as possible to maximize their influence in the Federal Government.

So no, the actions of the 70th Congress were not unconstitutional, but they were contrary to the design of the Constitution and detrimental to the health of our representative democracy. That there ought to be 10,000+ reps isn't a legal quibble, it's a cry for the return to our democratic roots where individuals had access to the government through our representatives, not through a moneyed and corrupt aristocratic class.

At 12:13 PM, Blogger j republic said...

It says "the number of REPRESENTATIVES shall not exceed ONE for every thirty thousand..." (emphasis made by me) by my understanding it says 1 rep for every 30,000 ppl

At 12:13 PM, Blogger j republic said...

It says "the number of REPRESENTATIVES shall not exceed ONE for every thirty thousand..." (emphasis made by me) by my understanding it says 1 rep for every 30,000 ppl

At 12:04 AM, Blogger Brian Terrill said...

There are those who are arguing with you that 30,000 was not an absolute rule, however, I will agree with you. The fact is George Washington only spoke once during the Constitutional Convention and that one moment dealt with changing the number of people for each representative from one in every 40,000 to one in every 30,000. The simple fact of the matter is, the Constitution would not have passed the convention floor if 40,000 was not amended to say 30,000 instead. So that proves you are right and the people arguing with you are morons.

At 6:47 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

The wording of this is pretty straight forward. Say a state was brought into the Union today (call it Franklin) and tjat states population was 300000 exactly. The constitution says that the state gets w Senators and 10 Reps AT MOST. It could get 1, 2, 5, 7, but never to exceed 1 for every 30000 people. The State can not have 15 Reps as that would be unconstitutional. Having 5 would not be unconstitutional.


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