Friday, February 19, 2010

Federal Government Says 'One-Person One-Vote' Rule Does Not Bind Congress - Plaintiffs in Historic Lawsuit Demand Equal Voting Weight Throughout U.S.

/PRNewswire/ - Plaintiffs in the historic lawsuit seeking a larger and more equitable Congress filed their briefs today in U.S. District Court. The lawsuit, Clemons v. Department of Commerce, challenges the constitutionality of the current size of the United States House of Representatives, arguing that the provision in the United States Code (2 USC Section 2a) that freezes the size of the House at 435 members is unconstitutional, violating the well-established principle of "one-person, one-vote" by a substantial margin.

"In short, the government asserts that they don't have to adhere to the 'one-person, one-vote' equality standard that is imposed on the states" said Scott Scharpen, founder and president of Apportionment.US, the non-profit charity coordinating the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs. "We honestly thought that we would get into a philosophical discussion around the question, 'How equal is equal?' Yet surprisingly, the government essentially claims that equality is not a factor at all when apportioning the U.S. House."

This is the same federal government, however, that forces states to achieve precise equality of congressional districts within a small fraction of 1%, yet at the national level, the federal government permits inequality to exceed 80%. The plaintiffs' response soundly refutes the government's extreme position with constitutional, historical and Supreme Court information.

The briefs filed today were prepared by Michael Farris, lead counsel for the plaintiffs. Quoting from one of the plaintiffs' briefs, "The Supreme Court's most common method of comparison in one-person, one-vote cases is to contrast the two districts that are most over-represented and under-represented. It takes 183 voters in Montana to equal 100 voters in Wyoming. Thus, Montana voters are 'worth' only 54.6% of voters in Wyoming. This disparity is so extreme that it brings back the distasteful episode in American history where slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person for apportionment purposes."

Unfortunately, the significant degree of inequality will persist and continue to get worse, based on the latest census projections. Therefore, the plaintiffs believe the time has come for Congress to properly reapportion itself according to the requirements of the Constitution and according to a "common sense" spirit of equality that all Americans deserve.

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