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The unratified Congressional Apportionment Amendment reads :

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.

Would it have any effect on the size of the HoR if it were ratified today?

If I'm reading the last part correctly, unlike the previous parts, it only sets a minimum size of a electoral district, rather than a maximum size, it wouldn't do anything, as the persons per representative is already far greater than 50,000, being about 720,000.

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No, the amendment would have no effect. According to the amendment, once the number of representatives reaches 200, it can never drop below 200 or go above 1/50,000th of the population (i.e. 6,000-ish). If the number is between 200 and (population/50,000), the amendment's conditions are satisfied. The conditions were likely not satisfied historically, but that's irrelevant: right now, they are satisfied.

As to why it only sets a minimum size of a district once representatives hit two hundred: presumably, it's because too large a House of Representatives would be unwieldy. There's some limit in how far ahead they planned for an expanding population; they weren't going to specify district sizes forever. Once the population hit a certain size, Congress was left to regulate it within reasonable bounds.

Incidentally: It appears that the original text did say "no less than one per 50,000"; it was amended to "not more than 50,000" before Congress approved it. The wording as passed by Congress has an odd contradiction: representatives are at least one per 40,000 until they hit 200; the population then is at most 40,000 times 200, or 8 million. Then, Congress must set a number of representatives which is at least 200 and has at most one per 50,000. But if the population is, say, 9 million, 200 representatives is one per 45,000: both conditions can't be simultaneously satisfied until population hits 10 million. So if it were passed, that'd have to somehow be worked out.

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Today's population in the US, (reportedly 325,700,000), would mean there should be at least 6,514 representatives and no more than 8,143.

Going by a minimum requirement of 1 representative per 40,000 population and max of 1 representative per 50,000 population.

This would put more reprentatives in place from more diverse groups. It could also prevent any one party from majority control in the house. And more people may get elected because of their individual qualities, instead of nationwide "image".

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  • There is no 6514 requirement. The requirement is at least one per 40,000 or at least 200. So once the population hit 8 million, the lower limit became 200, not 6514 or anything else. – Brythan Apr 20 '18 at 19:40
  • billofrightsinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/…. this document says max 1 representative per 50,000 citizens. – M. Aykens Apr 20 '18 at 21:49
  • Which says the same thing that I said, "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". If you're not going to bother reading your own source, why post it? – Brythan Apr 20 '18 at 21:54
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    You are right, not more than 1 representative per 50,000 persons does not mean a requirement of 1 representative for every 50,000 persons. Yet saying not more than 1 carton for every dozen eggs reads to me like a need for more cartons, not bigger cartons. – M. Aykens Apr 20 '18 at 23:38
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The Congressional Apportionment Amendment was designed to guarantee an adequate number of representatives in Congress. The reasons for it were many.

As James Madison wrote, in Federalist Paper Number 55:

[F]irst, 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;

Basically, he feared that if the ratio of representatives to citizens grew too small:

  1. That an unduly small number of representatives would be too vulnerable to corruption by powerful interests.

  2. That if each representative was charged with too many constituents, he would become out-of-touch with their interests.

  3. That if Congress became too exclusive a group, it would end up being drawn solely from the wealthy elites- who would prioritize the interests of elites over the masses.

Whatever you think of point #1, there is no doubt that points 2 and 3 have become a reality.

When you understand Madison's reasoning for setting the ratios as he did, you understand that it doesn't matter that this would lead to over 6000 representatives today. The Amendment's intentions were quite clear- one representative per 50,000 people (the version that implies no MORE than one per 50,000 was a misprint by a scribe. The correct language, and what the states thought they were voting on, was one per 50k. The Senate version was even more clear with its language, one per 60k...)

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The proposed amendment would have no effect so there isn't much point in passing it. The proposed amendment sets limits between 200 and 7200 representatives. The current number of representatives are in that range.

Washington proposed it should be 30,000- which would result in over 10,000 representatives.

Representation at that level would increase the significance of voters, reduce the cost of being elected a representative, reduce the power of individual representatives, decrease the ability to gerrymander, and increase the cost of successfully lobbying 51% of congress.

Such a congress could not function in the same fashion as congress currently does.

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The Amendment language shown above is not the correct language. There were typos which were documented and corrected at the time. The correct language is:

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 More 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 Less than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons.


Additionally, the amendment did, in fact, receive a yes vote by the Connecticut Legislature in 1790. So the 3/4th threshold was crossed in 1790.

see http://www.boldtruth.com for a well documented archive.

Seems like most people on this thread are arguing the wrong facts. Its not a question of if it got enough votes. It got enough votes. The documents where presented to the National Archives as required by the constitution. All that has to happen now is the National Archivist, David Ferriero, has to walk it over to Congress. Whatever you think the language is or what might happen is besides the point really. I probably agree with you on many points when the math is done right. Bigger question here is whether we care about the constitution. There is a mechanism for withdrawing a passed amendment. It should be invoked if we want to respect the constitution. It's not a tough argument to say many quarters do not respect it and would rather pretend the amendment is just not there.

Not that it matters for this argument but the correctly worded amendment states that no representative can represent more than 50k people. Thats about 6400 reps. As a thought experiment, there are 7,382 state level reps today in state houses. And just for fun, France has a system where you can be elected to both your local and federal seat at the same time. Let's get rid of the house and make each state legislature send someone to DC every year.

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  • Do the typos affect the meaning at all? If so, point them out (I didn't see any on a cursory glance). If not, then there's no point in mentioning it. Also, see this section of the wikipedia page. Make sure you aren't looking at the original, unreconciled version, rather than the version that was passed. – Bobson Dec 14 '15 at 16:56
  • There's also a lot of background to the Connecticut vote - namely, that no one realized it until relatively recently. If you're going to mention it (and it is rather significant), you should explain the background. – Bobson Dec 14 '15 at 17:01
  • @Bobson, there is no timeline on ratification. The standard is 3/4th's of the states approving at the time of ratification. The situation is also not unusual. See Wikipedia here "On May 18, 1992, in his official capacity as Archivist, he officially certified the ratification of the Twenty-seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution and on May 19, 1992, printed it in the Federal Register, together with the certificate of ratification.[5] " This happened 202 year after it was ratified. Typos were corrected so yes. – armand Dec 19 '15 at 14:07
  • You're totally right, but I think you missed the point to my questions. You claim that the posted text is wrong, and provide a corrected version. But I don't see the differences. If it's just a matter of a few commas with no impact, then it really doesn't matter (there's several "official" versions of the Constitution with minor differences like that, for example). If some of those typos change the meaning, then please point out what the typos are. I'm not going to do a character-by-character comparison. – Bobson Dec 19 '15 at 23:59
  • The correct text is my original post. And I just now noticed that its cited in the "correct answer". Dont know if that is an edit or i just missed it. Anyway, the original post says there is a contradiction because of the math. Not if you read it that you have to have 200 but no rep can rep more than 50k people. You can have less. But if a rep gets over that you have to redistrict.... – armand Dec 20 '15 at 18:27
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Currently the the House of Representatives is limited to 435 members due to a law passed in 1911, this amendment would obviously require the size of congress to increase dramatically. Should this amendment be ratified it would override the existing law due to the supremacy clause in the constitution, but action would be required to declare which rule should be enforced. This would be do to the proposed amendment actually being older than the existing law so there is no such language existing to handle the conflicting rules.

If this amendment were adopted it would likely not be implemented until at least after the next census when redistricting traditionally happens. This would be a massive increase in the size of the house and it wold take a while to plan how best to accommodate everything, some quick math this method would mean 1600-1700 members in the house.

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  • D'oh! Jinx! !!!! – Affable Geek Nov 24 '14 at 15:31
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    This is not correct. The amendment sets a maximum of one representative per 50,000, and a minimum of 200 representatives. Currently, there are over 200 representatives and less than 1 per 50,000 people; the amendment's conditions are satisfied right now. – cpast Nov 24 '14 at 17:36
  • Besides, even if you believe the final "more" should be "less," the figure of 1600-1700 is still incorrect, as it would require about 4 times more than that at minimum today then. – User that is not a user Apr 4 at 14:29
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Firstly, it should be noted that unlike the 27th Amendment, there is little chance that the Congressional Apportionment Amendment would be ratified today. Kentucky was the 11th state to ratify, back in 1792, and there have been zero additional ratifiers since. Frankly getting more Congressmen isn't something people are clamoring for - can't imagine why :)

More importantly, if the Amendment were to somehow be ratified, it would need to be reconciled with the Apportionment Act of 1911. In 1911, Congress decided for itself, consistent with its own rules and powers, that the chamber would be limited to 435 members.

James Madison writes about this very issue in Federalist Paper #55. He describes the tension between a Congress that is too large and too small as follows:

Sixty or seventy men may be more properly trusted with a given degree of power than six or seven. But it does not follow that six or seven hundred would be proportionably a better depositary. And if we carry on the supposition to six or seven thousand, the whole reasoning ought to be reversed. The truth is, that in all cases a certain number at least seems to be necessary to secure the benefits of free consultation and discussion, and to guard against too easy a combination for improper purposes; as, on the other hand, the number ought at most to be kept within a certain limit, in order to avoid the confusion and intemperance of a multitude. In all very numerous assemblies, of whatever character composed, passion never fails to wrest the sceptre from reason. Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.

Put another way, if this amendment were to pass, we'd have a mob and not a Congress. (Hecklers, I hear you.)

The "constitutional crisis" that would ensue would most likely follow a very predictable trajectory. SCOTUS would need to reconcile the two, and the above paper would be brought up. The originalists would point to this paper and say that the 1911 Act was probably more in keeping with what the founders meant by the amendment, and then everybody would figure out a compromise. With the prospect looming of fitting nearly 1700+ members into the Capitol and 435 Congressmen fearing they'll lapse into irrelevance, "something" would get done - but then you get so hypothetical that is would be nearly impossible to determine.

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    To copy my comment from the other answer: The assumption that Congress would have to expand is not correct. The amendment sets a maximum of one representative per 50,000, and a minimum of 200 representatives. Currently, there are over 200 representatives and less than 1 per 50,000 people; the amendment's conditions are satisfied right now. – cpast Nov 24 '14 at 17:37

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