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NexLex
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Jack, what's great about expanding the house is that it actually would *not* require an amendment. The Constitution only states, "the number of representatives shall not exceed one for every 30,000," and Congress routinely used to legislatively increase the number of representatives until the 1920s. I would argue, as you pointed out, that giving the larger states more say is a good thing. In fact, that's sort of the point: large populations are currently underrepresented in the House. This would help fix that.
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Judge Posner, while I completely agree with your analysis and proposed solutions, there may be an even better option, though it’s likely even less to come to pass in the current legislative environment: expand the House significantly and redraw the districts accordingly. The benefits would go beyond fixing gerrymandering. Smaller districts would better mirror true community boundaries, and Representatives would be more likely to vote in accord with their constituents’ preferences. You’d probably see the resurgence of citizen legislators rather than professional politicians, and It might even result in the two-party deadlock being broken – some smaller districts would surely elect candidates from third-parties. Just as significantly, it would dramatically reduce the influence of money, lobbyists and special interests since the value of each vote would fall. Obviously neither expanding the House nor eliminating gerrymandering through legislation are likely to occur on their own any time soon. For either to come to pass, both parties would likely need to see something to be gained for them in the future. And unlike expanding the House, gerrymandering could potentially be eliminated by the courts. Nonetheless, expanding the House was normal and expected in America until roughly a century ago, and it would go a long way toward correcting not only the problems you identified with gerrymandering, but several other structural issues in modern American politics.
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Jan 26, 2014