Thursday, September 17, 2009

Expanding the House?

So, conservative activists are filing a lawsuit to expand the House of Representatives in order to ensure truly equal representation for all people. Because representation is decided on proportional population per state, some people get underrepresented. A problem? Perhaps. But this is a fantastically bad idea:

That 400,000-person disparity between top and bottom has generated a federal court challenge that is set to be filed Thursday in Mississippi, charging that the system effectively disenfranchises people in certain states. The lawsuit asks the courts to order the House to fix the problem by increasing its size from 435 seats to at least 932, or perhaps as many as 1,761. That way, the plaintiffs argue, every state can have districts that are close to parity.

“When you look at the data, those are pretty wide disparities,” said Scott Scharpen, a former health care financial consultant from California who has organized the court challenge. “As an American looking at it objectively, how can we continue with a system where certain voters’ voting power is substantially smaller than others’?”

Of course, a larger House may not thrill Americans who are tired of Congress, and may make an already unwieldy body more so. “You may create a more equitable system that’s less governable, and I’m not sure the country comes out ahead,” said Kenneth Prewitt, a former Census director who now teaches at Columbia University.

Prewitt is clearly correct. You know, America is basically ungovernable today. Putting another 500 or 1300 members into Congress is only going to make things worse.

I did find it interesting to find out why Congress actually stopped growing in size in the 1910s: too many immigrants that rural states did not want to see represented. Racism works in strange ways.