Monday, May 01, 2017

Shall Not Exceed One for Every Thirty Thousand

By Douglas V. Gibbs

There has been a lot of discussion over the concept of a "Neighborhood Legislature," which calls for the ratification of the one amendment of the original twelve offered as the Bill of Rights that was never ratified.  While the other eleven (Amendments 1-10, and Amendment 27) were ratified, the States rejected the concept that would change Article I, Section 2, Clause 3 from stating that "The number of Representatives (in the House of Representatives) shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand" to "There shall be one Representative per every thirty Thousand."

The debates over the issue were extensive.  While at the time of the Constitution many argued the number of representatives was too small, and felt the people's voice should be larger, there was also a fear of the House becoming too large, and therefore, too expensive and too powerful.  References to other legislatures in history were discussed, including Rome's which, at one time, was believed to be over one thousand.

The Neighborhood Legislature idea claims that our Representatives are out of touch because they represent too many people.  If the number was smaller, it is alleged, giving us one representative per 30,000 citizens, they would be more in tune with their smaller districts, and it would make it easier, both in numbers, and financially, for the average guy or gal to run for office.  However, the result would be well over a thousand representatives in the House of Representatives, more than doubling its size.

Could you imagine over a thousand people like Nancy Pelosi, Paul Ryan, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell living on our taxpayer dime, and prancing around like they are some kind of ruling elite?  Is not the current number more than we can handle, as it is?

The reality is that the concept would simply increase the size of the bureaucracy, and would have catastrophic results by making the federal machine more powerful, and not necessarily more willing to listen.

I must ask, when it comes to the theory of representing less citizens, how has that worked out with city councils?  In fact, the districting of cities so that members of the council represent smaller districts has proven to be destructive to keeping the republic, and has allowed the enemies of the U.S. Constitution to gain a larger foothold in areas that would normally not be susceptible to their infiltration.

During the Constitutional Convention, the notes regarding this issue can be read at:

Dates to check:

30 May, 9 June, 11 June, 27 June, 28 June, 29 June, 30 June, 6 July, 9 July, 10 July, 11 July, 12 July, 13 July, 14 July, 24 July, 8 August, 20 August, 21 August, 5 September, 8 September, 13 September, 14 September, 15 September, 17 September

The Federalist Papers also offer a good source of information on the topic, in regards to the discussions going on in 1787 over the topic.  Remember, as you read them, the general fears were that while it was argued the House of Representatives was too small at the time, there was also a fear of it becoming too large.  The Framers of the U.S. Constitution also sought moderation on the issues.  On the political spectrum, because of the Framers' desire for moderation and creating a republic (rather than an extreme government based on democracy or aristocracy) was paramount, the Constitution is actually a classically centrist document. Read the following essays: Federalist #3, Federalist #5, Federalist #54, Federalist #55, Federalist #56, Federalist #57, Federalist #58,

Of particular interest is James Wilson's testimony on the topic at the Pennsylvania Ratifying Convention, 30 November and 4 December, 1787.

Also read the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention:, and Virginia's Ratifying Convention In both cases, there was a healthy debate on the topic.

Madison made comments in Congress, 1790:

The feelings about how to do this began long before the Constitutional Convention, and was discussed much afterwards.

Continental Congress, Taxation and Representation 12 July 1776 found in the Jefferson biography, 1821.

Other opinions from the time period:


Luther Martin:

Finally, while I am not a fan of Joseph Story's commentaries on the Constitution because he was a statist and a lackey of John Marshall, he makes some good comments about the topic at hand (and the failed amendment associated with it) in Section 673 of his commentaries:

You can find more commentary on the related topics here:

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

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