With allocation of congressional districts in accordance with the results of the 2010 census, many states are losing seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The practice seems unfair, but according to the system that we have in place for allocating House seats, it’s how things are supposed to work.
That’s because seats in the House of Representatives are supposed to represent a percentage of the U.S. population, not a fixed number of people. So, as population increases, each U.S. Representative speaks for more and more people. States like New York and Ohio, therefore, lost seats in the House of Representatives merely because their populations didn’t grow at a rate as fast as other states, like Texas and Florida.
An organization called Thirty-Thousand.org is seeking to change this arrangement, and create a new system in which House seats are allocated for every fifty thousand Americans. To do so would require creating more than two hundred thousand seats in the House of Representatives.
Members of this proposed legislature would have a difficult time meeting packed onto the National Mall, much less within the U.S. Capitol. Still, using present technology, there’s not much reason that the entire House of Representatives would need to actually meet in person.
Thirty-Thousand.org argues that people would be better represented by individual members of the House if there were more members of the House. The group also is upset that the current, small number of U.S. Representatives is in violation of the principles of the Federalist Papers. They write, “Federalist Papers 55 and 56 explicitly promised, without qualification, that there would be one Representative for every thirty-thousand inhabitants.”
Of course, the Federalist Papers are not in any sense a source of law in the United States. They were nothing more than a series of op-ed columns that represented the political opinions of only a certain group of politicians at the time they were written. A promise in the Federalist Papers has no more legal standing than a promise written on the editorial pages of the Washington Post.