Suppose that a political party ("X") controls a simple majority of both the House and Senate in addition the the presidency. At this point in time, the Supreme Court is not relevant.

  1. All states that are supportive of X are divided into many smaller states, a vast majority of which are supportive of X. As this gives X more influence, the relevant state legislatures consent as required.
  2. As step 1 primarily affects the composition of the Senate but not the House, the size of the House is altered to be as small as possible: one representative per state.
  3. If, at any point, X feels that their majority is threatened, step 1 is repeated.

At this point, X has firmly cemented one-party rule. However, I believe we can go farther.

  1. The constitution has no qualifications to be Speaker of the House. While there is a prohibition on a member of the Congress from serving in the executive branch, the Speaker is not a member of Congress. The president is elected Speaker of the House. The president can now bring any bill they desire to the House floor for a vote. The vice president, as President of the Senate, presides and bring any bill they desire to their Senate floor for a vote. The legislative calendar of both chambers is subject to the whims of the president and vice president.
  2. The constitution does not specify the size of the Supreme Court. Congress passes a bill changing the size of the Supreme Court to one.
  3. X plays the long game by waiting for all existing Justices to die. Alternatively, they impeach and convict all Justices on bogus charges using their overwhelming majority established in steps 1–3. In either situation, the sole Supreme Court seat is now vacant.
  4. The constitution has no qualifications to be a Supreme Court Justice. Unlike the legislative branch, the constitution seems to permit a member of the executive branch to serve in the judicial branch simultaneously. There is even precedent to this fact: John Marshall was simultaneously Secretary of State and Chief Justice from February 4, 1801 to March 4, 1801. The president nominates themself to the vacant Supreme Court seat and is confirmed by Congress.

Now, we have a president who is elected by a minority of people due to extraordinarily gerrymandered state boundaries. This president is simultaneously the Speaker of the House, and thus able to bring any bill they desire to the House floor for a vote. Further, they are the sole Supreme Court Justice, meaning that they can unilaterally uphold any bill. The only legal mechanism by which a president can be removed from office is impeachment, which is firmly out of reach given the gerrymandered states.

For the sake of everyone, I hope this scenario never materializes. However, I do not see any step that is unconstitutional. No constitutional amendments would be necessary to accomplish this, and "all" that's required is that the elected members of Congress do not go against their party en masse (a single member could merely be expelled).

It would seem that this plan could be executed in mere days, assuming Congress takes the route of impeaching the existing Justices rather than waiting for them to die.

Is this a constitutional path towards single-party rule in the United States with an extraordinarily strong president having near-zero checks on their power, or am I missing something?

  • The president can still be removed by impeachment, which means they still serve at the pleasure of congress. Congressmen, famously this year, regularly do not vote in blocks so a majority forming in a chamber is irrelevant.
    – uberhaxed
    Feb 10 at 6:13
  • 2
  • This seems flawed based on the idea just because a party is in control of those areas now and assumes that will never change and the party won't split.
    – Joe W
    Feb 10 at 14:46
  • 2
    With regards to steps 4 and 7, the constitution does specify that Each Branch is seperate but equal, which means that one cannot hold an office in one branch while holding an office in another. In fact, in the event that the Speaker of the House ascends to the office of President as per the Presidential line of succession, the Speaker must resign as both a representative and a speaker in order to do so, or the line goes to the next person (President of the Senate Pro Tempura, who must also resign his present office.)
    – hszmv
    Feb 10 at 15:19
  • 1
    "At this point in time, the Supreme Court is not relevant." ?? Why
    – Trilarion
    Feb 10 at 15:50

3 Answers 3


There is no explicit reason other than norms. The admissions clause governs the admission of new states into the union. As this article says, there is typically a territory process as well. One electoral consideration that you might be concerned about is the shifting nature of electorates. This could backfire (much like courtpacking) in any realignment and what would stop the other party from doing the same if they somehow gained power (admittedly unlikely in your scenario.)

To make it more concrete, say Democrats tried to make a ton of states based on working class white people without a college degree in the '90s. They would ostensibly cement one party rule under your formulation... That is until that same group changed from a reliably Democratic bloc to a very Republican Bloc. I hope this answers your question.

  • Note the current Supreme Court is considering that state electors shouldn't be required to have anything at all to do with how the population in the state actually votes.
    – user253751
    Feb 10 at 15:23

This will hit problems in sub dividing the states that supported the current president. First, per the constitution, the federal government may not alter a state's borders without consent of the state. What's more, few states have total party support across all subdivisions of that state. In fact, given the nation's consistent historical urban-rural divide, many state's break for the candidate that wins the major urban population centers tends to win the state. Maryland, as an example, could be subdivided into three states (Eastern Maryland, which is every county that borders Delaware and the Chesapeake Bay's Eastern shoreline, Central Maryland (Everything from the western edge of the Chesapeake to the panhandle, and Western Maryland (the Panhandle), but the state's consistent vote for Democrat candidates, is largely due to the Central Maryland population, which contains most of the major cities in Maryland, and the D.C. Suburbs. Even then, it's only a few of the counties that actually go to Democrats in this part. In fact, there has been a movement in Western Maryland to succeed from Maryland and either form a new state or join West Virginia, because they are reliably Republican but are out voted. The Proposed Eastern Maryland is largely Republican and very rural.

In effect, while this state is very loyally blue, dividing it would likely lose a Democratic seat in the House (Maryland's gerrymandering is one of the worst in the nation), and add four safe Republican seats in the Senate. And Maryland isn't the only state with this problem. The entire Pacific Coast has large urban populations who keep the states blue, with a major rural population that is considering separation due to under representation. There's no way to divide Washington in away that yields two blue states, nor Oregon... Because the majority of the urban population that votes are blue and there is only one major urban center in both states (Seattle and Portland respectively). The same is true of Illinois and New York, which are dominated by major cities and, were those large population centers not part of the state, they would be a lot safer for Republicans than they presently are.

That said, Speaker of the House is a Congressional position (it draws pay from the budget for the Congressional Budget) so it cannot be held by a sitting President (The Speaker of the House is third in the line of succession to presidency, and if the Speaker has to assume the office of President, they must step down from being a Rep and from Speakership. They cannot hold both offices at once.). Additionally, Admittance of a State is a decision made by both houses and the reason why we don't admit any now, is all potential 51st states are Democratic strongholds. Traditionally, States are admitted in pairs with one state being reliably Republican and the other Reliably Democrat, to avoid upsetting the senate's current balance of power.

The other problem is that if you look at American Congressional politics at any given time, the party in power almost always has trouble getting the votes to pass party-liner stuff done, while the party not in power disproportionately is very good at getting votes to block legislation. This is because in order to pass legislation, a majority must agree to all language in the bill, while getting a nay vote requires finding a majority of people who disagree with some parts of the bill (and they don't have to be universally against the same part. If you don't like a bill because it classifies ducks as fish, and someone else doesn't like it because it bans waffles, you can both agree that there is an acceptable reason to block it. If you want to pass the same bill, you have to find more people who agree that "Ducks are Fish" and "Waffles shall be banned" are acceptable laws that this nation needs... in addition to all the other stuff that the bill changes. This is also because the party in power has a lot more seats that are prone to swing and their members in those seats may agree with you on ducks and waffles... but they might be sitting in a district that does not... and elections are every 2 years...

  • Well, since the Q is based on extremists assumptions, they could divide a state by running one or even several state lines right down through the cities, so as to maintain the current party dominance. And likewise all the assumptions about admitting states only on condition that some balance is preserved go out the window if one assumes current legislatures are dominated by one party to the extent of passing any legislation they like short of formal constitutional changes; so your 2nd para is besides the point as well.
    – Fizz
    Feb 10 at 14:06
  • @Fizz Even still, you would have at most two years, which is hardly enough time to get this through without threat of giving a house of congress to the opposing party (The number of times a president's party controlled both houses following the first midterm in all of history is countable with all the fingers on one hand.).
    – hszmv
    Feb 10 at 15:11
  • Yes, it's one of the things I said in my answer, there would have to be an unprecedented level of "hive mind" coordination, and not get punished by any sort of moderates/swing-voters in the rather frequent US elections for the HoR. Historically speaking many countries in which such things were done by one party quickly descended into bloodshed and civil war. Some examples would be Afghanistan around Dauod's time etc. There are of course some example of more peaceful slides to one-party rule... ahem Russia. But almost all require some kind of security apparatus siding with or being the party.
    – Fizz
    Feb 10 at 19:59
  • ... and in Russia's case it took substantially longer with increasingly stacked elections by a combination of media control, centralizing constitutional reforms, judicial exclusion of the opposition, and outright assassinations here and there. Plus the enabling (hive mind-ish) factor that the party was essentially one man's political vehicle.
    – Fizz
    Feb 10 at 20:19
  • although one shouldn't discount nationalism/revanchism that gave it a [growing] base in that direction in conjunction with nearly constant warring, sometimes by proxy, either near the borders or in slightly more distant "colonies" (Chechnya, Georgia, Syria, Ukraine.)
    – Fizz
    Feb 10 at 20:28

An act to admit a new state requires passing of a law which is subject to filibustering in the Senate, under present rules. Since they did not find it fit to get rid of that except in very narrow circumstances, that would be the first stumbling block.

Furthermore, such a [vast] conspiracy would have a difficult coordination problem in terms of state divisions. Because whoever gets through their law subdividing their own state first gains/has an advantage. So you assume no regional rivalries whatsoever, like e.g. no interest/fear that state which does this first will get a larger pie of the federal budget pork etc. Just to be slightly more clear on this, your sociological assumption is that there could a party comprised of individuals who are extremely (apartheid-level) unfair towards "the other" party, but somehow will display extreme fairness towards a continent-sized ideological ingroup, so that it won't fall prey to local/regionalism factionalism when it comes to serially making new states.

Finally, while new states could clearly skew the Senate (under the present allocation rules), the House of Representative districts are based on population census, as I recall. So, it's not too clear how much cementing of the advantage is to be gained there by having new states.

There's also the underlying assumption that there are basically no independent or swing voters who'd be outraged, and who might given the first opportunity (HoR elections happen rather often) swing the HoR in the opposite direction. As the history of midterm results shows, that tends to happen even without totally outrageous plans for eternal one-party domination being laid bare.

the size of the House is altered to be as small as possible: one representative per state

I'm not sure how you could do this and still maintain constitutionality without also giving the other side/party extra [micro] states as well. Because

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.

You'll end up in the Supreme Court with some kind of constitutional challenge if you pass a law making Texas have one rep and all your micro states also one rep each. And if you haven't packed the court already, that probably won't stand. But if you did pack the court with say 100 million judges or so (only with people in your party), you've already fundamentally altered the system so much that the rest of the plot is probably redundant. I mean "one one-party man, one state" is basically direct democracy of one party [i.e. with a disenfranchised 2nd party], but that is somewhat redundant to having turned the supreme court into a "direct one-party democracy" owned by the members of the [eternally] ruling party. Assuming they are [hyper]partisan enough, such a court could reject most laws by the other side if elections are somehow lost etc.

More realistically, if you want to assume the current Court would oppose a packing with millions as altering the nature of the republic or something, you can bootstrap it in one step, first packing it with a small majority that would presumably be [much] less objectionable, but enough to pass your real coup, i.e. 2nd packing that puts all your party members in the Court.

Also, the problem is rather ill-defined, now that I think of it, in the sense that you haven't spelled out why the court needs to be under control of the party, if the constitution is to be respected 100% to the letter. On the other hand, if you assume constitutionally dubious/debatable measures will be passed [eventually], then stacking the court would be the first step, and ironically pretty easy to do without going through your rather complicated sequence.

  • " the House of Representative districts are based on population census, as I recall." - with the caveat that each state is always entitled to at least one representative. So if one wanted to game the system, they could create a large number of micro-states within their most loyal regions.
    – Philipp
    Feb 10 at 10:02
  • @Philipp: yeah, well, "one man, one state" or even an approximation is probably too silly to discuss.
    – Fizz
    Feb 10 at 10:10
  • @jhpratt: as you're new here: the constitution is not self-enforcing. It would take a far smaller conspiracy to not enforce it in some critical aspect.
    – Fizz
    Feb 10 at 10:17
  • @jhpratt: everyone could wake up a communist tomorrow (after watching TikTok or something) and change everything in the US. The constitution doesn't prevent that either. Because there are implicit assumptions about human nature in most legal/constitutional systems that don't get codified but act to prevent certain things from happening.
    – Fizz
    Feb 10 at 10:25
  • @Philipp: I mean in theory nothing prevents a majority from packing the supreme court with a hundred million judges or so, effectively turning it into a direct democracy.
    – Fizz
    Feb 10 at 10:32

You must log in to answer this question.