Thursday, September 17, 2009

Historic Lawsuit Seeks Larger Congress Under 'One-Person, One-Vote'

/PRNewswire/ -- A lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi today challenging the constitutionality of the current size of the United States House of Representatives. The lawsuit argues that the provision in the United States Code (2 USC section 2a) that freezes the size of the House at 435 members is unconstitutional, egregiously violating the well-established principle of "one person, one vote" affirmed in multiple Supreme Court decisions. At the state level, the implication of "one person, one vote" means that each state must ensure a population variance of less than 1% across all its federal congressional districts so that voter equality is strictly maintained. At the national level, however, this principle has not been applied, and the population variance between the most under-represented congressional district and most over-represented district exceeds 80%. Fortunately, the current disparity and resulting inequity can be remedied by simply adding more members to the House of Representatives.

The five plaintiffs in the case each represent the five most under-represented states and include: Lisa Schea from Delaware, John Tyler Clemons from Mississippi, Jessica Wagner from Montana, Krystal Brunner from South Dakota and Frank Mylar from Utah. Not only do these five plaintiffs suffer from unconstitutionally diminished voting power, but so do all other qualified and registered voters throughout these states. The five most over-represented states are: Iowa, Nebraska, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Wyoming. "Our Constitution was crafted around the idea that all citizens deserve an equal voice in the decisions of their government," Clemons said. "If someone's vote in Iowa or Wyoming counts for more than mine, how is that equality?"

Apportionment.US, Inc. is the non-profit organization coordinating the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs. "The foundation of our constitutional form of government in America is defined by 'We the People,' which demands equal representation across our entire Republic," said Scott Scharpen, founder and president of Apportionment.US. He added, "Whether you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent, working to achieve equal representation is the ultimate non-partisan, grassroots effort that is worthy of support from all Americans."

Despite the U.S. population more than tripling in the last 100 years (from less than 100 million to over 300 million people), the number of House representatives over the same time has remained identical at 435 members. Why has this inequity in voting rights and representation never been formally corrected or challenged? Scharpen answered, "It's not clear. While many scholars and political analysts have raised these important issues, this lawsuit is the first of its kind seeking to correct the inequity, which clearly violates the Framers' intent. We are committed to correcting the injustice perpetrated on the residents of these five states, but we are also working to ensure that both current and future generations of Americans across the land have a representative form of government that maintains structural equality for all."

If this lawsuit is successful, the court will require an increase in House membership to achieve appropriate voter equality across America, and bring about perhaps the most significant change in the federal government structure in nearly a century.

Counsel for the plaintiffs includes Michael Farris (Chancellor of Patrick Henry College in Virginia) and the local law firm of Wilson, Hinton & Wood in Corinth, Mississippi.

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