Of Course D.C. Should Be A State

Some people may have missed it in comments, but there was a debate about D.C. statehood and the malapportionment of the Senate in the Calhoun thread that is worth its own post. Let’s combine a couple of Murc comments:

DC absolutely should not be a state. It should be merged into Maryland. Having two Senators for a tiny postage stamp of land is just as ridiculous as having two Senators for the tiny handful of people who live in the vast empty swathes of Wyoming.

Ideally, we’d simply adopt a more sensible method of apportionment, but absent that, the way to give DC residents representation is to send the land back to whence it came.

[...]

[Responding to an argument that "DC has been a separate political entity for as long as Kentucky has, and forcing them to unify with a state they were part of 200 years ago is silly."] Then we’ll never reform the Senate. Ever. Because most states have been separate political entities for extremely long periods of time as well. By your logic it would be ‘silly’ to force them into different configurations.

Look, let’s start with this — the Senate will in fact be “reformed” by eliminating its malapportionment never. First of all, Article V says that “no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.” And even if we assume that this provision can be amended, it is essentially superfluous because the amendment process established previously in Article V makes the Senate’s malapportionment permanent. The idea a significant numbers of small states (both through their state legislatures and their representatives in the Senate) are not only going to vote to greatly dilute their political influence but would be so motivated to do so that they would be able to satisfy the onerous supermajority requirements imposed by Article V is ludicrous in the extreme. It’s like saying that it’s no big deal for the Greens to throw presidential elections to Republicans because they favor a constitutional amendment that would create a national right to obtain an abortion, only less plausible. Comparing D.C. statehood to an ideal institutional arrangement that the Constitution forecloses is an entirely useless exercise.

Once we accept the obvious fact that Senate malapportionment is a permanent feature of the American political landscape, we can get to the more relevant question of whether D.C. statehood makes this problem better or worse. And the answer is quite clearly “better.” One reason Senate malapportionment is so problematic is that the overrepresentation of small states isn’t random but ends up in white, rural states in particular being massively overrepresented. Granting statehood to a diverse, urban small state would make this problem better. And in addition, there’s a rather obvious injustice to granting statehood to a substantial number of tiny white, rural states and then pulling the ladder up just in time to deny representation to D.C. and Puerto Rico. Having 51 or 52 states rather than 50 doesn’t make Senate malapportionment meaningfully worse, and granting statehood to some different kinds of states would on balance make the Senate more representative. And granting D.C. statehood wouldn’t require a constitutional amendment, just unified Democratic control of a Congress from which the filibuster has been eliminated from the Senate (which I think is nearly inevitable in the medium term), or a realignment that causes more small, rural states to vote like Vermont and Maine.

So if D.C. (or Puerto Rico) want statehood, they should get it; it’s a no-brainer.

183 comments on this post.
  1. Bitter Scribe:

    I wonder how other countries handle this? Mexico, for instance, which, if I’m not mistaken, has a Districto Federal (apologies if that’s misspelled) that’s roughly analogous to our D.C.?

  2. Craigo:

    Giving enormous representation to a tiny slice of the American people does not make malapportionment better. That’s insane, eye-for-an-eye logic. It’s a further distortion of a badly broken system. Voters represent only themselves – they do not magically provided greater representation for voters in other states by the magic of demographic similarity.

    “Legislators represent people, not trees or acres. Legislators are elected by voters, not farms or cities or economic interests.”

    Or demographic groups.

  3. NonyNony:

    just unified Democratic control of a Congress from which the filibuster has been eliminated from the Senate

    I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that whatever the Democrats end up with for filibuster reform, the ability to filibuster questions of territories becoming states will not be touched.

    I’m also going to go out on a limb and say that DC is as likely to get statehood in my lifetime as Canada is. Actually, thinking about it, Canada is probably more likely to get statehood in my lifetime than DC is. For reasons about the US that are summed up in the Calhoun post and haven’t changed as much as we might like to have had them change in the past few centuries…

  4. Craigo:

    When discussing Venezuela with otherwise decent liberals who have an inexplicable fondness for Chavez, it becomes clear that a lot of people don’t give a damn if the process is democratic or not, as long as they get the result that they want.

  5. UserGoogol:

    The Federal District is actually the second largest “state” in Mexico. Mexico City is a very big city.

    But apparently how the Mexican Senate apportions seats is that each state/district gets equal representation, but there’s also at-large Senators elected by proportional representation mixed in, which presumably helps balance things out somewhat.

  6. Johnny Sack:

    Can’t see it happening. A city 51% blah people becoming a state? I can hear the dog whistles already.

  7. Walt:

    And lots of other liberals don’t care about the outcome, as long as the proper paperwork was filled out.

  8. TT:

    Could this argument segue directly into the idea that major cities/metro areas themselves should be granted statehood? Why shouldn’t the likes of New York, Chicago, L.A., Miami, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and a few others become independent states? It would help to dilute malapportionment even further, which is all too the good. I also would like to see the House triple or quadruple in size–after all, if we’re going to have parliamentary-style polarization for the foreseeable future, then at least our political representation and, eventually, our governing institutions can reflect that.

  9. Bruce Vail:

    Far better, I think, to adopt the Sabato plan that would increase the size of the Senate by giving high-population states as many as five Senators, while even the smallest state would be guaranteed a minimum of two.

    The beauty of the Sabato plan is that there is a decent chance that a bill getting this amendment rolling could actually pass today’s House of Representatives.

    I’m a Maryland resident and I prefer the option of merging DC into Maryland. It would go a long way to insuring that there is at least one black of the Senate well into the future even if the Sabato plan is never adopted.

  10. tt:

    The contrary position makes no sense to me. You need to think of the actual effect of your political preferences, not their fit to some abstract standard of democratic purity. There’s nothing just or sensible about sacrificing our position on healthcare, wealth inequality, labor, climate change etc. to maintain a system which systematically disempowers the groups whose interests we claim to represent. Real people will undergo real suffering on behalf of your purist silliness.

  11. Full Metal Wingnut:

    You know, I can buy your arguments with regards to the Senate. But I wouldn’t see any problem with giving them a seat (a real seat) in the House. It would be splitting the difference. No exacerbating malapportionment, given the way the House seats are assigned.

    It would be mostly symbolic, given the size of the House, and the fact that D.C. would only get one seat. But, since at least in theory tax bills are supposed to originate in the House, it would address the taxation without representation argument. But again, given the size of the House, changing our non-voting delegate to a voting Representative won’t make a damn bit of difference.

  12. Scott Lemieux:

    I concede the point of the Douglas quote — it would be better if the Senate was apportioned by one person one vote. But since that is not on the table, the question is whether D.C. statehood would make the problem worse or better. And, on balance, it would obviously make the problem better, since the difference between 50 and 51 is trivial and representing a diverse, urban state brings a greater balance of interests.

  13. Craigo:

    One-person, one-vote. What a terribly bureaucratic and myopic principle that is.

    The voting power ratio for citizens of Wyoming and California is currently 74:1. The “solution” to this problem is to create a new state, which would have a ratio vis a vis California of…56:1.

    Was it just two weeks ago that we were congratulating ourselves on not being innumerate? That was fun while it lasted.

    If DC wants representation, persuade Congress to cede it and Maryland to accept it. But giving the citizens of the District disproportionate voting power is inherently undemocratic.

    I know, I know. Electing two more Democratic Senators is more important actually being democratic.

    (And by the way, this demographic argument? Somewhere Charles Murray and Steve Sailer are nodded sagely at the wisdom of this idea. Of course it makes sense that minorities in the district would have the valuea and interests representative of minorities nationwide – they’re all blah, right?)

  14. Scott Lemieux:

    Far better, I think, to adopt the Sabato plan that would increase the size of the Senate by giving high-population states as many as five Senators, while even the smallest state would be guaranteed a minimum of two.

    Don’t forget to add a constitutional amendment guaranteeing single-payer. And a pony!

  15. Craigo:

    They did at one point. Gingrich changed that, and I wholeheartedly support going back to it.

  16. L2P:

    “One reason Senate malapportionment is so problematic is that the overrepresentation of small states isn’t random but ends up in white, rural states in particular being massively overrepresented.”

    Although I completely agree that this is a fundamental problem, I also think that unfortunately most Republicans see this as a feature, not a bug, and since DC Statehood is a minority-rules process isn’t this never going to happen?

  17. Scott Lemieux:

    The voting power ratio for citizens of Wyoming and California is currently 74:1. The “solution” to this problem is to create a new state, which would have a ratio vis a vis California of…56:1.

    Of course, D.C. statehood isn’t a “solution” to malapportionment. There is no solution to malapportionment. The question is, given that malapportionment is a fact of life, does D.C. statehood make the problem meaningfully worse or better? The answer is better.

  18. Murc:

    Man, why is it my comments only get promoted when someone thinks I’m an idiot? Well, could be worse. I could soullite. Anyway.

    Look, let’s start with this — the Senate will in fact be “reformed” by eliminating its malapportionment never.

    I don’t believe this. Maybe because it’s wishful thinking, but mostly because if this is true, we’re going to permanently be an incredibly misrepresented nation, the laughingstock of the representative democracies.

    And on TOP of that, we’d also basically be permanently one of the least socially advanced nations in the western world, because the most reactionary elements among us will keep using their control of an important veto point to stymie change.

    And I’m not ready to give up the ghost on either of those.

    As far as your argument… assuming that the only viable choices are “the residents of DC continue to be fucked over by not having a reasonable city government” or “statehood” then of course you pick “statehood.” That is indeed a no-brainer. But I remain unconvinced that this is the only option on the table.

    I also think we may be talking past each other, that is, referring to different things, when we discuss “malapportionment.”

    When I talk about malapportionment, I approach it from the standpoint of “a chunk of the country with about the same number of people in it as NYC or LA controls nearly one-fifth of the Senate. That’s crazy and wrong. The fact that the Senators they send up tend to be crazy teahadists or DINOs exacerbates that wrongness, but it would be equally wrong if they were sending a legion of Bernie Sanders clones.”

    I just don’t find “well, if Wyoming is going to be grossly malapportioned, lets get some gross malapportionment working on our side as well” all that compelling. I dunno, maybe I’m grossly wrong about that. And there’s certainly some privilege involved here; I’m a white guy who lives in the suburbs and has never been meaningfully marginalized in my life, which means maybe I’m giving too much weight to abstractions here rather than practicalities. But being aware of that fact doesn’t necessarily mean I’m willing to suborn my judgment to others without being convinced.

    So if D.C. (or Puerto Rico) want statehood

    Puerto Rico is trickier for me. There’s not an obvious part of the country to fold them into; they’re, you know, an island. Sticking them with Florida would be grossly unfair in a way sticking DC with Maryland wouldn’t be. Therefore I’m strongly in favor of them being a state, and while strictly speaking they probably shouldn’t have two entire Senators, it’s better than the weird limbo they’ve existed in for decades.

  19. Full Metal Wingnut:

    Careful though. Not sure I want Florida or Texas to have 5 Senators.

  20. Jonathan Dresner:

    There actually is one way in which Senate malapportionment could be rectified, bypassing the admendment issue: Constitutional convention. While a certain amount of inertia may be inevitable, it’s not that hard to see a constitutional convention making the Senate a lot less powerful, or at least differently powerful, given how weak the arguments for its current structure are.

  21. Craigo:

    Actual democracy = purist silliness.

    Gotcha. I’m gonna go talk to Scott now.

  22. Full Metal Wingnut:

    I’ll add that to my Gingrich demerits list.

  23. L2P:

    +1

    Also, if granting statehood means that overall politicians are more reflective of the voters (even if in this secondhand, ass-backwards way), there’s a chance that people won’t be so tied to this ridiculous system and, just maybe, we can actually talk about changing it.

  24. Chatham:

    I suppose they could petition for separation or statehood. I doubt there are many residents that want that, however.

  25. Craigo:

    How so? It is terribly undemocratic of the Senate to give individuals in small states more power. So how does creating another small state with disproportionate power make the problem of inequal representation better? That’s just 500,000 more people with inequally large representation.

    The status quo is far, far from ideal. I want those people to be represented, but there are ways to increase their representation without grossly overrepresenting them by making them a state.

  26. Full Metal Wingnut:

    I think Puerto Rico is less tricky in that, if they became a state tomorrow, they’d have a population slightly below median. I mean, you could definitely argue that states like Connecticut, Iowa, Nevada, and further down, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Delaware (etc.) don’t either. But unlike D.C., just under half the states represented in the Senate now have a population less than PR. Could be worse. It would be more like getting another Connecticut or Oregon as opposed to a Wyoming, in terms of people.

  27. Craigo:

    Yes, that’s unworkable. But large states need only the consent of Congress and their own government to divide.

    That’s a big hurdle, but it’s still the easiest path to meaningful reform.

  28. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    In fact, the House should be dramatically larger than it is now. It grew in size along with the country until the 1920s, when its size was frozen. This is simply a statutory matter. Making our representatives “closer to the people” by having each represent fewer people is a necessary reform that’s not often enough discussed. And it would have the added bonus of making the very smallest states less overrepresented in the House.

  29. Chatham:

    So if we had the ability to take away Vermont’s – and only Vermont’s – two Senators, while leaving everything else as it is, you would be in favor of that?

  30. John:

    The DC delegate once had the right to vote in committees, including the Committee of the Whole. She never had the right to vote in the full House, which would be unconstitutional.

  31. tt:

    Don’t think I said that in my comment. Favoring a system which is marginally more “democratic” (by one standard) but much worse for actual human beings who live on this planet is purist silliness.

  32. Charlie Sweatpants:

    “Could this argument segue directly into the idea that major cities/metro areas themselves should be granted statehood?”

    I’ll leave it to the swarm of lawyers around here to sort out the particulars or correct me, but I’m pretty sure that this prevents that:

    “Section 3 – New States

    New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.”

  33. RedSquareBear:

    But the choice with which we are confronted is to give those DC residents Congressional representation (over-weighted as that representation may be, and I’ll certainly grant that it is) or not giving them Congressional representation (which means they are underrepresented in the Senate versus other Americans by, what, 300 million to zero?).

    Those are the options on the table.

    And I’m no Chavezista, either and I don’t know where that came from. But thanks for that non sequitur of a dig.

  34. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    Couldn’t agree with you more. It seems bizarre to rigidly apply abstract principles of democracy to potential states like DC and PR in a situation in which it is literally impossible to apply those principles to everyone else. There’s nothing principled or consistent about doing that.

  35. Bill Altreuter:

    Actually, the last time that DC representation was before the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution this is more or less exactly what Orin Hatch had to say about it. He also thought it would lead to Inuits in Alaska petitioning for their own state.

  36. Chatham:

    Actual democracy = 620k people have to follow standards that no one else in the country has to?

  37. Murc:

    The question is, given that malapportionment is a fact of life, does D.C. statehood make the problem meaningfully worse or better? The answer is better.

    Giving DC statehood may in fact be the best viable option. I remain unconvinced, but it might be.

    And it would unquestionably make it easier to get better legislation passed.

    But as far as making the problem of malapportionment worse or better, well, I just think you’re wrong, Scott. “Two grossly malapportioned polities elect representatives that cancel each other out” does not mean malapportionment isn’t a problem.

  38. Charlie Sweatpants:

    “Having 51 or 52 states rather than 50 doesn’t make Senate malapportionment meaningfully worse, and granting statehood to some different kinds of states would on balance make the Senate more representative.”

    Yeah, but what would we do about the flag?

  39. Bruce Vail:

    Maybe pie-in-the-sky, but maybe not.

    If the House members from the heavy population states voted for it, it could pass the House on a bipartisan basis (wouldn’t Texas want five senators just as much as California would?)

    The it need to be ratified by the states, which is trickier, but not impossible by any means.

  40. Full Metal Wingnut:

    Agree with your last sentence, which is why I dislike the so-called “Wyoming Rule” concept. What would be the ideal number of constituents per Representative though?

  41. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    Totally disagree. A constitutional convention is monumentally unlikely. And given that there is no movement in favor of eliminated the Senate or reducing its powers (however good an idea that is), suggesting that an (imaginary) constitutional convention would do so is the worst kind of wishful thinking.

  42. Murc:

    Taking away Vermont’s two Senators would in fact make the Senate better apportioned.

    It’s a bad idea and I’m not in favor of it, because, like every other citizen in our country, the residents of Vermont deserve full Congressional representations, but from a strict “would it make apportionment better or worse” perspective, it would in fact make things better.

    You keep acting as though not being in favor of DC statehood means that people think the residents of DC don’t deserve to have their votes counted. This is in fact not true.

  43. Murc:

    In fact, the House should be dramatically larger than it is now.

    Damn right it should. The fact that the House hasn’t grown in nearly a century is crazy.

  44. Craigo:

    No, those are not the only options. The District is Federal property and can be ceded to Maryland, and have full representation in Maryland’s congressional delegation, which would be almost perfectly proportional to its population.

  45. Bill Altreuter:

    Why shouldn’t Puerto Rico have two whole senators? Here’s a good bar bet: What is the largest city in the United States without a team in any of the four major league sports? (It’s better if you include hockey as a major league sport.) San Juan is a natural for baseball, and the only reason I can think of that it doesn’t have a team is that MLB is waiting for Castro to die. The fact that this is a terrible reason means that it is just the sort of reason MLB would use. The fact that Puerto Rico is populous enough to have a MLB team is ample justification for allowing it two senators.

  46. Chatham:

    You would not be in favor of it, even though you think it’d make apportionment better (I disagree). So perhaps you wouldn’t mind treating DC the same way.

  47. tt:

    What’s problematic about “malapportionment” other than that it leads to bad legislation?

  48. Chatham:

    Again – do you think residents of New Mexico would lost anything from a union with Texas?

  49. Craigo:

    One person, one vote is scare-quote “democratic.” Guess we can say goodbye to Wesberry v Sanders then? That bit of purist silliness from gerrymandering our way into a permanent Democratic majority and Medicare-for-all.

    Think about it: Real people are suffering because some asshole named Earl Warren was decided that congressional districts shouldn’t be grossly malapportioned like Senate seats.

    Do you have an argument that doesn’t assume, a priori, that your personally preferred policy outcomes are the goal?

  50. Jonathan Dresner:

    I never said it was likely, though there are several groups pushing for it and at least a couple of state legislatures that have approved the call.

    I said that a constitutional convention would be more likely to address malapportionment than an amendment process.

    If malapportionment is a serious issue (and I think it is) then C.C. is worth considering as a path to correction.

    And the imbalance and anti-democratic nature of the Senate would be, I think, a victim of a reasonably open discussion of government on the merits.

  51. Bruce Vail:

    Ummm….but wouldn’t it be great to have Sheila Jackson Lee as a Senator from Texas?

  52. Erik Loomis:

    I don’t think you understand the level of hatred toward Texas among New Mexicans, particularly the Hispano and Native American populations.

  53. NMissC:

    I’m trying to understand the debate here. Am I understanding one side to be arguing this: “I think the people of the District of Columbia should remain entirely without representation in Congress while we fantasize about solving a different problem– that there is malaportionment between other voters that there is virtually no chance of solving.”

    Have I got that right?

    It seems to me the people with zero votes are being substantially more disadvantaged when compared to the people whose vote is diluted.

  54. Craigo:

    If you don’t give a damn about democracy, then absolutely nothing.

    And clearly, some don’t.

  55. S_noe:

    this doesn’t look terrible

  56. Chatham:

    I’m not sure why you think that some low-population polities having two Senators and one having none is less malapportionment than all low-population polities having two Senators.

  57. Murc:

    Why shouldn’t the likes of New York, Chicago, L.A., Miami, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and a few others become independent states?

    We actually had a crazy push in New York State recently to hive off the city and upstate into two separate polities.

    It didn’t go anywhere, which is a good thing for the city.

    I can’t speak to the other cities on that list, but in the case of NYC? Much of its water and power and a ton of other things it needs to survive and prosper come from, and are controlled by… upstate.

    As things stand now, NYC sends many state reps to Albany, where they can shape policy with regard to those resources from the less populated part of the state being used to properly support the more peopled part of the state.

    If upstate were its own state, the hypothetical City-State of NYC would have zero say in those decisions.

    I understand that there’s a similar ongoing issue happening in the west with regard to water rights; the Colorado River wends its way through many states on its way to the sea, and since the various states it flows through don’t actually answer to each other, it makes coming to sensible and equitable agreements… tense.

  58. Craigo:

    Who’s talking about New Mexico? There’s no feasible way to get them and Texas to merge, and creating newly malapportioned polities doesn’t solve the problem. It just creates a new one.

  59. RedSquareBear:

    The simplest way would be “Establish a unit of population such that the smallest state is one unit”.

    But what would be better would be coming up with a unit of population that would divide more-or-less cleanly into the populations of the states.

    For example, you could make that unit one, but that could create a seating problem.

    And think of the bribery costs it would impose on the poor bankers.

  60. Craigo:

    I stand corrected.

  61. Craigo:

    I agree absolutely.

  62. Murc:

    … your baseball-based formula intrigues me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

    Actually, I’d never really thought of this before. Isn’t baseball enormously, I mean, just crazily popular in Puerto Rico? I recall hearing that somewhere. Why DOESN’T San Juan have a franchise?

  63. djw:

    Malaportionment in the US Senate is a procedural and substantive problem. What I don’t understand is why you think the intractable nature of the procedural problem means we shouldn’t attempt to address the substantive one.

  64. Chatham:

    And the problem’s not only lack of representation, but also lack of all the rights that states hold, such as legal and budgetary autonomy.

  65. Full Metal Wingnut:

    But re your first sentence, i.e. the Wyoming Rule, that doesn’t solve the overrepresentation of the smallest states that my esteemed colleague Buttocks is concerned about, unless I’m misreading it.

    I don’t know if the smallest state (Wyoming) is formally /explicitly the unit, but it is pretty much the de facto law (in that Wyoming has about 700,000 people, which I think is the number per Rep, no?), so that doesn’t really change much?

  66. Murc:

    Have I got that right?

    No.

    The people of DC unequivocally deserve representation in the Congress. Period, full stop.

    What there’s disagreement over is the best/most effective way to go about this. Nobody here is taking the position that they should remain without it.

  67. Craigo:

    The principle is one person, one vote, and the idea is to remain as consistent with that principle as possible. Thanks to the ridiculous inertia of our constitutional system, Senate malapportionment unfortunately isn’t going anywhere easily, and perhaps not at all. But that is not argument in favor of creating more malapportioned entities.

  68. Craigo:

    Is it viable financially? GDP per capita is pretty low in Puerto Rico, compared to current MLB markets.

  69. Chatham:

    “Who’s talking about New Mexico? There’s no feasible way to get them and Texas to merge, and creating newly malapportioned polities doesn’t solve the problem. It just creates a new one.”

    That’s not the question – would they loose anything, other than their Senate seats? I don’t think it should be so hard to realize why one would want to be an independent state rather than merged with a much larger neighboring state.

  70. Bruce Vail:

    Of course we should all remember that DC will not be given statehood, simply as a matter of political reality, unless another Republican state is added at the same time. Such a deal would do nothing to make the Senate a better or more representative body.

    I’m still in favor of the merger of Maryland and DC, whether the Sabato plan advances or not. The we Marylanders could tax the fuck out of the Republican commuters living in Virginia!

  71. Craigo:

    Speaking of fantasy, how likely is it that Congress will up and create two new Democratic Senators?

    The people of the District deserve representation, and there are other ways to go about that. They do not deserve the absurd political power held by the people of Wyoming and Vermont. The people of Wyoming and Vermont don’t deserve it, either – nothing against any of them. But there is no real way to fix that particular problem, and several ways to fix or ameliorate the District’s lack of representation.

  72. rea:

    I like this one.

    This one, though, seems like a bad idea.

  73. Craigo:

    When it comes to the Constitution’s provision that equal suffrage in the Senate shall never be altered, how binding is that really?

    I know that some constitutions have eternity clauses, but isn’t a common law principle that no generation can bind the hands of a later one?

  74. djw:

    Maybe pie-in-the-sky, but maybe not.

    What on earth leads you to conclude that 38 states would go along with this? It’s not remotely plausible.

  75. Craigo:

    What I don’t understand is why you think the intractable nature of the procedural problem means we shouldn’t attempt to address the substantive one.

    Nobody actually thinks that. We do think that the substantive problem can be solved or ameliorated without worsening the procedural problem – which is admittedly intractable.

  76. Full Metal Wingnut:

    You can’t just cede the District to Maryland if they don’t want it

  77. RedSquareBear:

    The Wyoming Rule unit would be about 560000 (by Wikipedia), which would be the minimum-allowable by the Constitution. But it doesn’t seem intuitively obvious that the WR is in any way better than current apportionment.

    But as I understand it, the Constitutional limit isn’t binding, it’s just a limit which is traditionally binding. There’s no reason that the smallest state has to have a single district, it’s just done like that.

    A finer-grained apportionment unit would satisfy the demands of the Constitution and the needs of Democracy. Just go to Wolfram Alpha and find the factors of 560000. Maybe 112000 or 140000?

    I wish there wasn’t a jump from 140k to 280k but, you know, numbers.

    This is of course academic. The advertisements against such an expansion are obvious “CONGRESSMAN SO-AND-SO VOTED TO SEND MORE POLITICIANS TO WARSHINGTUN, BLAH BLAH BLAH”.

    And if nothing else, the group dynamics of a Congress five-odd times the size of the present Congress would serve as a Public Works project for Political Scientists for generations to come.

  78. tt:

    One-person, one-vote isn’t an option here. Scott and others have given very good reasons why DC statehood would make our system more democratic. I’m saying that there’s no use in quibbling over which system is a marginally better match to some Platonic ideal of Democracy when one system is obviously better from the policy perspective. Since gerrymandering is bad from both a democratic and policy perspective I don’t see what purpose you have in bringing it up.

  79. rea:

    That kind of reasoning would lead us to conclude that it’s constitutional to establish a religion.

  80. S_noe:

    It seems pretty unlikely that you couldn’t amend that away. On the other hand, it seems pretty unlikely that such an amendment would go anywhere.

    Robert Dahl and Hendrik Hertzberg both have a neat workaround proposal: take each state down to one senator – still equal representation! – and elect the other 50 (or whatever) “at large”, I.e. nationally. Balances the representation of geographic and non- geographic constituencies. I love this idea if only because the Senate would be much more entertaining with Senators Nugent, Winfrey, Clooney, Maddow, and West (Allen AND Cornell).

  81. Hob:

    And I’d imagine that the smaller the districts, the harder they would be to gerrymander, at least to the significant extent that we’ve seen in the last couple years.

  82. djw:

    I fail to see how it’s a “workaround” since the small states would never go for it. Any electoral change that increases the representational parity threatens the interests and power of well over 1/4 of states. They have no reason to compromise when ensuring the status quo continues is incredibly easy.

  83. Bruce Vail:

    Because any state that would add senators would presumably have a reason to support it.

    And in those states that would simply retain their current two senators, a determined effort by the national Democratic Party could well provide a margin for victory.

    The Sabato plan may not seem likely, but it is certainly plausible.

    The hardest part of the Sabato plan is to get either of the national political parties to support it. The Democratic Party should support it, for numerous reasons, but probably won’t.

  84. MikeJake:

    Since we’re dreaming, why not reform the legislative function of the Senate, maybe turn them into something more akin to the House of Lords. They could be the learned elders of the government, and handle some of the more big-picture issues of the US. They could be in charge of holding hearings, ratifying treaties, and voting on political appointments and judgeships, while the House concentrates on legislating.

    Then again, abolishing both the filibuster and the ridiculous 435 member cap on the House would probably drastically improve things without having to get fantastical.

  85. S_noe:

    Well, it’s a workaround if you assume that article V is un-amendable. But yeah, totally unrealistic.

    I still like the idea.

  86. djw:

    Puerto Rico is trickier for me. There’s not an obvious part of the country to fold them into; they’re, you know, an island. Sticking them with Florida would be grossly unfair in a way sticking DC with Maryland wouldn’t be. Therefore I’m strongly in favor of them being a state, and while strictly speaking they probably shouldn’t have two entire Senators, it’s better than the weird limbo they’ve existed in for decades.

    Puerto Rico, at nearly 4 million people, would be the 29th largest state, and its inclusion would reduce the average standard deviation from the mean in state population.

  87. Bruce Vail:

    Maybe I am missing something, but can’t the Constitution be amended on any subject at all?

    Theoretically (anyway) isn’t it possible to amend the constitution to bring back slavery, or install Pat Robertson as Archbishop of the American Church, or outlaw gay marriage, or any other silly thing (Prohibition)?

  88. Jameson Quinn:

    I’m currently (procrastinating about) applying to doctorate programs in order to devote my fucking life to improving democracy. And the reason is, I think that for a variety of reasons democracy is the least-worst way of actually solving problems in the long term. If I had a magic wand that could impose my personal solution to climate change, AND guarantee that there wouldn’t be unintended consequences, including not having to violently put down the anti-magic-wand rebellion some day, then I’d use it; but since I have a deep faith that there is no such wand, I will devote my life to democracy.

    And since the options are, stupid senate with no DC representation, or stupid senate with DC representation, then there’s absolutely no question that the latter is more democratic. And your trollish insistence to the contrary is getting annoying.

  89. daveNYC:

    It’d be worth doing just for the gear sales to PR expats.

  90. S_noe:

    I still like the idea.

    As opposed to the status quo, I mean. And for its poetic quality. Not as a serious soup-to-nuts, dream-world reform of the Senate.

  91. gocart mozart:

    Break California up into two states, Northern and Southern.

  92. Njorl:

    We don’t live in a democracy. We live in a Republic with a democratic means of choosing our representatives.

    The moral justification for a republic is that leaders will approximate the desires of the people. That is certainly a flawed belief, but we accept the drawbacks because they are preferable to the impracticality of running a genuine democracy.

    We long ago gave up on the idea of “actual democracy” for pragmatic concerns. A change that makes the representitive assembly more closely resemble the populous is a good change.

  93. Jameson Quinn:

    Also, under most models, giving California voters (of which I am one, by the way) a slightliy shittier deal in return for not giving DC voters the total shaft, is actually in better accord with Democratic ideals than the status quo. So Craigo makes no sense in either (a reasonable interpretation of) the democratic or (any possible version of) the policy issue.

  94. Murc:

    I somehow thought it contained fewer people than that.

    I withdraw my concerns and now support Puerto Rican statehood even more than I did before.

  95. djw:

    I suspect that’s it. The Expos played a couple of games there back in 2003 and it was a big hit. The best current facility is a bandbox, and only seats around 20K, IIRC.

  96. gocart mozart:

    The Pac Man Flag

  97. Murc:

    I’d really like to see us jump straight to 1000 members. Even 1250 wouldn’t be out of line.

  98. bexley:

    I don’t believe this. Maybe because it’s wishful thinking, but mostly because if this is true, we’re going to permanently be an incredibly misrepresented nation, the laughingstock of the representative democracies.

    At least the US Senate is elected in some fashion. Over here the upper house consists of 92 members who are there by virtue of their birth, 26 bishops and a bunch of appointed members.

  99. Jameson Quinn:

    um… 186667?

    Fucking numbers, how do they work? :)

  100. gocart mozart:

    Why is it either or? Don’t call them a state but give them a rep in congress and perhaps one senator.

  101. Full Metal Wingnut:

    I mean, we still do have slavery/indentured servitude, you just have to be convicted of a crime first.

  102. S_noe:

    Ixnay on the first. Circles=O’s=Obama.

    Actually, I like the retro quality of the circle. We could also just go with a Gadsden flag, but combine it with “Join, or Die”: the snake gets chopped into 51 pieces!

    I foresee massive support from the TEA party, and Anthony Bourdain.

  103. Jameson Quinn:

    Let’s define CA as one person, one vote. Fine. So, DC with one person, 54 votes is A WHOLE LOT CLOSER TO THAT by any reasonable measure than DC with one person, zero votes. If you can’t grasp that, and continue to assert that anyone who can grasp that hates democracy, then your problem is not with democracy, it’s with math.

  104. MikeJake:

    As a side benefit, gerrymandering would become much tougher with 3X the number of representatives.

  105. Joey Maloney:

    If DC is underrepresented, and Wyoming is overrepresented, the solution is obvious: cede the District to Wyoming.

    Geez, do I have to do all the work around here?

  106. Jameson Quinn:

    Yes, I want CA÷7 too. That’s only like the square root of pony!

  107. Full Metal Wingnut:

    I’m not even sure what you’re asking? Reading the Constitution that way would effectively mean that the provisions are no different than plain statutory law-i.e. Congress cannot bind itself, so theoretically they could repeal the entire Internal Revenue Code tomorrow. Or the Federal Reserve Act? That’s kind of exactly the point of having a Constitution to begin with.

    I mean, we’re not bound by the Constitution, because of Article V. We can pass an amendment modifying Article 1 section 3.

    But surely you know this. What are you proposing? What is a generation? Would you re-ratify the Constitution every “generation” the same way the Senate votes on its rules of procedure every term?

  108. ploeg:

    City water comes from the Catskills. That isn’t so far away. You can make the cut just north and west of the Catskills and still end up with two nice-sized states. The Erie Canal doesn’t drive the growth of the city anymore, so you can let upstate have the Adirondacks.

  109. Jameson Quinn:

    Yes, but that will probably be fixed in my lifetime. Unlike the Senate.

  110. Craigo:

    I’m sorry, I should have given the cite.

    The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

  111. Jameson Quinn:

    No, a constitutional convention is not a blank-slate thing. They can rewrite the whole constitution if they want to (though that’s monumentally unlikely), but whatever comes out of the convention still supposedly has to pass the current amendment process. (Unless, I guess, there’s also a revolution/coup going on, and the traditionalists lose; but then the antichrist would just send the seven-headed beast to reinstate the senate anyway, you know he would, so that’s not worth speculating about.)

    Next.

    (I favor a constitutional convention. But this is one problem that it can’t fix. ‘Twould be easier just to make the Senate irrelevant.)

  112. Jameson Quinn:

    Um… more likely than whatever it is you’re proposing.

  113. Jameson Quinn:

    Actually, it would be easier. Unfortunately. Especially for Republicans, who cluster somewhat less than Democrats on average.

  114. Jameson Quinn:

    I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  115. RedSquareBear:

    (Can’t reply directly to you, Jameson, sorry.)

    Confusion: I displays it?

    The Census population of Wyoming in 2010 was 563,626.

    I rounded that to the ten-thousand (560000) originally although you could round to the thousand (564000) if you wanted to I guess.

    The factors of 564000 that seem reasonable are 282000 PPR (2 reps), 188000 PPR (3 reps), 141000 PPR (4 reps), 112800 PPR (5 reps). These are the easy whole-number apportionment units that come from the population of the smallest state.

    I don’t understand where 18667 comes into it.

  116. Murc:

    Yeah, but the Lords doesn’t actually do anything, does it?

    If I recall, every time they start to mutter about exercising their theoretical powers in a meaningful way, the Commons and whoever is PM at the time says “you will get away with this EXACTLY once and then we will destroy you. How important is this to you?”

    Am I mistaken in this?

  117. MikeJake:

    It doesn’t matter if they cluster, those clusters can be divided into mutliple urban districts, districts whose population lies entirely within a particular metro area. There wouldn’t be enough space to tack on surrounding rural lands to dilute them.

  118. Scott Lemieux:

    Malapportionment is, in fact a serious problem. The United States Senate is a horrible institution. This isn’t in dispute. What I do dispute is that D.C. statehood makes the problem meaningfully worse, any more than ceding Vermont to New York or Massachusetts would make the Senate meaningfully more representative.

  119. Bijan Parsia:

    The principle is one person, one vote, and the idea is to remain as consistent with that principle as possible.

    But procedural or formal consistency with the principle is not the only form of consistency and thus maximizing that dimension may not maximize consistency with the principle.

  120. RedSquareBear:

    Never mind, I read “18667″ not “186667″.

    Just fucking around with Wolfram and the Wiki there is a similar number: 192590 goes into 308144000 and 188000 goes into 564000. I suppose 190000-ish is as good a number as any to use.

    That means there would be 1600 Reps.

  121. Craigo:

    There doesn’t appear to be any consensus on whether the last clause of Article V is binding.

    If the very same article that created the power of amendment also expressly limits that power, then it would seem to follow that the limitation is binding; if not for Article V, the entire Constitution would be unamendable, and could only be replaced. The Philadelphia debates strongly indicate that this is what the Framers intended.

    No one seriously proposed outlawing the African slave trade until 1808, when it was banned immediately, as soon as the clause became inoperative. And during the winter of 1860-1861 there was debate in Congress over the Crittenden Compromise, which was a series of unamendable amendments. David Potter concluded that this was the single most important element to Southern unionists; they certainly didn’t see it as a dead letter.

    But again, unamendability seems to violate the basic common law principles; and as a practical matter, an amendment that has enough support to be enacted is unlikely to be overturned.

  122. Scott Lemieux:

    It seems bizarre to rigidly apply abstract principles of democracy to potential states like DC and PR in a situation in which it is literally impossible to apply those principles to everyone else. There’s nothing principled or consistent about doing that.

    Bingo. Nobody has offered the slightest justification for arbitrarily pulling up the ladder on DC and Puerto Rico.

    Senate malapportionment unfortunately isn’t going anywhere easily, and perhaps not at all.

    Perhaps? That is silly. There is absolutely no chance of it going anywhere. There’s nothing democratic in any sense about applying different standards to D.C. than every other state.

  123. Jameson Quinn:

    I like the 1600 reps. Nice patriotic number.

  124. Scott Lemieux:

    I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that whatever the Democrats end up with for filibuster reform, the ability to filibuster questions of territories becoming states will not be touched.

    This isn’t going to be a problem. Once the Senate starts down the road of making the filibuster inapplicable to more and more things, the support for the filibuster will be further undermined. Plenty of Democratic senators will be willing to put their personal power over the interests of their party when the filibuster when the filibuster gives many senators substantial power. Nobody is going to give a shit about preserving the power to filibuster new states per se, and the norm is going to be that the new Senate majority sets the rules.

  125. Bijan Parsia:

    I favor an amendment that leaves the senate composition as it is but strips it of all power. Does that get around this bit?

  126. Jameson Quinn:

    But diluting them is exactly what you want to do for fairness. In a hypothetical state with four urban districts which are 70/30 and four rural districts which are 45/55, there would be 4:4 overall when it should be 5:3.

  127. Scott Lemieux:

    Because any state that would add senators would presumably have a reason to support it.

    But the whole reason that the Senate is terrible is that this is a minority of states. And legislation, you know, needs to pass the Senate. Jesus, people.

  128. Scott Lemieux:

    So it’s a functionalist argument. “There’s no institutional means of making the Senate one person/one vote, but it will have to happen because it sucks.” I think this is self-refuting — the idea that injustices in American society simply have to vanish is, ah, problematic — but there we go.

  129. Jameson Quinn:

    Of course, the superior solution is proportional representation. With a biproportional, delegated system like PAL representation, you wouldn’t even have to give up districts and local representation, or simple ballots.

  130. bexley:

    Yep.

    The Government just got defeated in its bid to allow ministers to order secret court hearings (where evidence against suspects would be presented by the prosecution but without the defendants and their lawyers present) in cases where they claimed intelligence sources would be at risk. The amended bill gives judges more power when deciding whether hearings should be secret. (NB I actually agree with what the Lords did here but that doesn’t make the upper house any more democratic!)

    Under the Parliament Acts, the Lords can’t block budget bills and the Commons can override the Lords veto after two years if they want to (although this power is rarely used).

    Examples of recent Lords vetoes being overridden by the Commons include the ban on fox hunting and changing the system for electing Members of the European Parliament.

    This site lists some recent Bills blocked by the Lords.

    I suspect if the Lords was consistently obstructionist then the Commons would lose patience, but everyone puts up with them blocking some bills so long as they don’t go too far.

  131. Scott Lemieux:

    SO, just to be clear, the idea that Democrats will control both houses of Congress and the White House is a fantasy not worth discussing, but the idea that there will be supermajorities willing to run an incredibly onerous gauntlet to dilute their own representation is a viable alternative. Sure.

  132. Scott Lemieux:

    I agree, but as I say it doesn’t matter. Article V protects the Senate no matter what.

  133. Matt McIrvin:

    Puerto Rico actually isn’t absurdly small, it’s just kind of small. It’s on par with Connecticut and Oklahoma. I see PR and DC as being somewhat different situations.

    That said, my impression about ceding DC to Maryland was that there are political reasons it’s much less likely than DC statehood, so it’s not a realistic option. Am I wrong?

  134. Murc:

    That’s actually unconstitutional.

  135. John:

    Yeah, for a look at how Democratic gerrymandering works, look at Illinois – all of the Chicago area districts include substantial portions of the (heavily Democratic) city and then stretch out into the (much more Republican) suburbs, denying Republicans competitive districts in the suburbs.

    Compare to Pennsylvania, where the heavily Democratic areas of Philadelphia and its inner suburbs are concentrated into as few districts as possible so as to allow a bunch of Republican districts in the suburbs.

  136. seeker6079:

    If no-one else has already, may I be permitted to point out the obvious?

    There is no way this side of a Sugarcandy Mountain hell that enough of America is going to accept a majority-black state. They will fight it tooth and nail while ascribing it to anything but race, whilst talking about how they’re all past the whole messy Race Thing.

    That’s of course leaving aside the fact that almost all of the empty states GOP and they won’t go for two more Dem states.

    PR and DC both deserve statehood, if they want it. Problem is, a disproportionate amount of American history and politics and money have always made damned sure that folks who deserve good things don’t get ‘em.

  137. Jameson Quinn:

    Exactly. And as number of districts increases, “pack ‘em in” gets easier while “pie wedges” gets harder. So I’d favor increasing the size of the House, but it would make the (currently net-Republican) gerrymandering problem worse, not better; and solutions like PR more, not less, urgent.

  138. Matt McIrvin:

    There are nice-looking designs for US flags with all numbers of stars that are likely in the near future. 62, 79 and 89 don’t allow the sorts of grid or staggered patterns that have been used in the recent past, but all the other numbers in that range do, though in some cases they might not be quite as symmetrical as the 50.

  139. Jameson Quinn:

    “America” doesn’t have to accept it. Just a majority in the House and (filibuster-fixed) Senate and a President who signs it. Not easy, but a long way this side of Sugarcandy Mountain.

  140. Jameson Quinn:

    Oh, and for PR, the Puerto Ricans themselves must still want it at the appropriate time. Which is far from certain but still not Sugarcandy-land.

  141. L2P:

    It’s a work-around in that it complies with Article V’s requirement that no state can be denied of equal sufferage without its consent. All states still have equal sufferage, so you don’t need to get Wyoming and Alaska to consent on an individual basis, you only need to get the 2/3 votes on a country-wide basis to amend the Constitution.

    Otherwise, you would need the 2/3 vote to ratify the amendment, PLUS each state that had “lowered” representation would have veto power over the change.

  142. Woodrowfan:

    except you’d be taxing mostly Arlington, Falls Church and Fairfax which are overwhelmingly Democratic. hell, even Loudoun and Price William are becoming Democratic.

  143. Johnny Sack:

    I see what you’re saying now. But to reduce a state’s senators, wouldn’t you also need to amend article 1 section 3, which provides 2 senators to each state?

  144. Woodrowfan:

    it might work. Both hate being told what to do by Congress..

  145. Johnny Sack:

    Well I don’t want to assume what it is you were getting at, beyond Article V itself. So would Article V mean that a mere 2/3 of states (i.e. to get an amendment) is not enough to abrogate article 1, section 3, and that you’d need each individual state to approve it?

  146. Bruce Vail:

    you’re ruing my little joke….

    Well at least the Republican House members with homes in Virginia would have to pay the commuter tax….

  147. spencer:

    there are ways to increase their representation without grossly overrepresenting them by making them a state.

    What are they?

  148. spencer:

    Because, yes, there is a very real chance that the people of Maryland would not actually want responsibility for DC. What then?

  149. spencer:

    Yeah, this has been causing problems for me as well. I’d really like to see an answer to this.

  150. The Pale Scot:

    Maybe we could hop the makers/takers meme.

    If a state takes in more federal dollars than it sends one of the senators loses their vote.

    That make sense right? No representation without taxation.
    Grover and the boys will be all over it, Right! Right?

  151. spencer:

    So let ‘em petition.

  152. Pseudonym:

    And there’s a chance that they would not actually want responsibility for Baltimore either.

  153. Pseudonym:

    People, people, people, calm down here. In the interest of both extending and equalizing representation there’s one very clear solution we’re ignoring: let’s grant DC statehood but only give their senators three-fifths of a vote each.

  154. MikeJake:

    But a state with 8 districts after an increase in the House membership would have had something like 3 before the increase, and it probably would have split 1:2. 4:4 beats 1:2.

    You’re letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

  155. Johnny Sack:

    I disagree on the basis of basic statutory construction. The presence of language specific to changing representation implies that an amendment is not enough. You don’t for example, see language in Article V saying that slavery cannot be abolished or voting rights not extended without the permission of the state.

    Unless you disagree and think that an amendment is consent enough, but I think a good argument could be made that Article V sort of further solidifies Article 1 Section 3 (two senators per state) with that additional, more specific language specific to that particular part of the government.

  156. Chatham:

    As well as Washingtonians not wanting to be part of Maryland.

  157. MikeJake:

    I think you misunderstood. Just as urban populations can be diluted by tacking on suburban and rural pops in the same district, in Democrat-heavy states it’s the opposite: the surrounding suburban pops get diluted by being joined with chunks of the urban center.

    Illinois has 10 districts in roughly the Cook County area. If that were 30 districts, that would be roughly 12 districts solely within the city of Chicago, with the other 18 divided up among the area roughly constituting Cook County. Much more likely that those districts would be divided up in a coherent fashion, rather than to achieve partisan ends.

  158. MikeJake:

    I meant to say “drawn in a coherent fashion.”

  159. Jameson Quinn:

    Illinois is now gerrymandered Democratic. With smaller districts, that would be harder to do. That would be an improvement.

    The House as a whole is now on average gerrymandered Republican. Democrats got more votes, Republicans got more seats. With smaller districts, that would be easier to do. In fact, the (nonetheless totally laudible) change in Illinois would help to make that national problem worse.

    I still favor smaller districts. The perfect should not, as you say, be an enemy of the good. But since the “perfect” in this case (proportional representation) is, as far as I can see, no harder a political lift than the “good” (more seats), we should pursue both of them in parallel.

  160. Johnny Sack:

    Wait nevermind I read your comment out of context.

    Not much of a workaround though is it? If I read it correctly, it’s amending Article I to guarantee each state just one Senator, and then the rest at large, thereby not violating “equal sufferage” in the Senate. And then the election at large. And since the rest are at large as opposed to apportioned, it would weaken any potential argument saying that a state is being deprived of equal sufferage. So, like you say, no one state would have veto power like they do in the alternative way.

    But would enough states go for this workaround? I don’t think so. A solid plurality of the smaller states which cause such malapportionment are blood-Red. It might, might get through Congress and then get sent to state legislatures, state legislatures will vote on whether to ratify. And you have, in addition to those small red states, states like Florida and Texas with huge Republican majorities in their legislature. For the same reason, it would never get off the ground via Constitutional Convention. I mean, it’s an interesting idea for con law nerds, but given its practicality, you might as well propose a plan for, I dunno, a Wow raid to redefine the Senate.

  161. Matt:

    The idea a significant numbers of small states (both through their state legislatures and their representatives in the Senate) are not only going to vote to greatly dilute their political influence but would be so motivated to do so that they would be able to satisfy the onerous supermajority requirements imposed by Article V is ludicrous in the extreme.

    Do they still get to vote if they’ve decided to secede and started detaining federal officials? Because I suspect that’s what it’s going to come down to at some point, demographics etc being what they are.

  162. Dana:

    Yes, Article 4 Sec. 3 was my first thought when I read Scott’s comment:
    “And granting D.C. statehood wouldn’t require a constitutional amendment, just unified Democratic control of a Congress from which the filibuster has been eliminated from the Senate…”
    In misremembering that section my thought was that a constitutional amendment was required to create a state out of another state, but it seems you would just need the consent of the Maryland legislature (in addition to Congressional legislation), which should be pretty easy to get given the state’s current political leanings.

  163. Dana:

    Just increasing the number of senators doesn’t necessarily mean more minority representation. More likely you’ll have John Cornyn Version I, Version II, Version III, etc…

  164. Dana:

    Yes, my interpretation has been that this passage means you can only amend the constitution to change equal representation in the Senate if every single state ratifies the amendment.

  165. Dana:

    Some constitutional scholars have suggested this — the “Senate-lite option.” Essentially moving us to more of a Commons-Lords power dynamic.

  166. jefft452:

    Wyoming has half a million people, PR has 3 and a half million

    Lets bring PR in as 7 states, with 14 Senators and 7 house members

  167. Craigo:

    Yes, that’s one option. I saw a law review article today that made a good case that simply abolishing the Senate would also comply with Article V – denying Senate suffrage to every state is not denying them equal suffrage.

  168. Craigo:

    Yes, it’s not really clear what it means by the state’s consent, since we already have an amendment process that doesn’t require unanimity. I think you’re right here.

  169. wembley:

    I thought previous ideas that were actually put on the table for DC statehood involved DC getting representation, and then a red state getting extra representation to “balance things out”?

    Personally, I’d love DC to become a state. That said, gentrification in the District has forced a huge number of low-income black residents from the city. Which means I think DC statehood is actually more likely to happen one day… the day that right-wingers feel secure in the fact that DC is no longer Chocolate City in any meaningful sense, sadly.

  170. matttbastard:

    PR’s current Gov. is a Republican.

    Just sayin’.

  171. Anonymous:

    ND, VT, and WY all have about 600k people. They each have 1 fully empowered represenative in the House and 2 Senators.

    DC has about 600k people and none of the represenation. The only difference being their territorial size.

    So why is the optimal solution to have DC absorbed by MD rather than given the same representation and autonomous government compared to the others?

  172. sven:

    Actually, apportionment would be improved by adding two senators for DC. Americans living in DC have no representation. If we compare the voting power of Californians to current DC residents we have something:zero. Even 56:1 is an improvement on the existing distribution of representation. Your mistake was to take apportionment within the Senate as the appropriate measure. A better measure is apportionment among eligible voters.

  173. Belle Waring:

    Substantially more likely than DC statehood, but less just and less fair.

  174. Belle Waring:

    DC is officially no longer majority black. Chocolate city no more as of last year, IIRC. Big plurality, though, obviously. And yes Republicans will oppose it on those grounds. But nonetheless, DC statehood is a possible, achievable political goal worth openly setting and fighting for, and saying we should not do so on the grounds that we should, instead, be playing Fantasy Federalism and imagining that small states will muster up in supermajorities to dilute their own interests by giving up senators is 100% pure, uncut malarkey that could kill a person who shot up normal stepped-on malarkey all the time. Bullshit. And self-admittedly advocated by a white guy who’s never lived in DC. You can’t imagine the indignities DC has been made to suffer by Republicans from hell and gone who come to town for 4 years and make up new bitchy rules about everything. And suddenly now that all these white people live downtown we have the money to build all these extra metro lines and parks and stuff? Why was the story that the city was bankrupt and couldn’t afford the libraries to be open all the time just 10 years ago? Again, I call bullshit. I am a white woman who no longer lives in DC but did as a young person. When McMegan moves downtown they suddenly bust out all this new awesome public transit? Where the hell did that come from? Ma. Lar. Key.

  175. Jeremy:

    I think if we’re at the point of having a constitutional convention, it would happen in a situation where there would be enough support to pass an amendment authorizing the convention as a blank slate affair. Or it would happen in a situation where the Constitution has stopped being a concern in practice, and the new Constitution can declare itself passed by whatever mechanism it wishes, which is what the current one did.

  176. Jeremy:

    Obviously, it was naming as many things after Reagan as possible that flooded the city’s coffers with cash.

  177. zolltan:

    I think this is one area where “the worse, the better”/”heighten the contradictions” arguments actually apply. I think that because

    1. I don’t actually think that, and
    2. Too much to drink.

    But, basically, all that needs to be done is the democratic legitimacy of the senate has to be eroded way further than it is now, and norms will develop that will rob the Senate of its power, just like the people yearning for a House of Lords want. And all without any constitutional conventions, amendments and all that crap. So, let’s support the repeal of the 17th amendment, vote for crazy people, etc. etc…

    Now that I think about it, the lack of democratic legitimacy doesn’t really seem to be stopping the Supreme Court from acting as a third chamber, but, eh, whatever, I say we give it a shot. At the very worst, Senators will have to write long, tortured opinions about how what they’re doing makes sense.

  178. IM:

    The principle is one person, one vote,

    The principle of the senate is very much not one person, one vote. And in your preferred solution – forcing Maryland and DC against their will to merge – the result of this undemocratic process is hardly one person,. one vote either. The senate will be as kswed as ever.

  179. IM:

    nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States

    And that is the roadblock in the merge with Maryland proposal: How do you get the legislature of Maryland to agree?

  180. IM:

    I think there is a slight chance they could piggyback on PR statehood.

  181. IM:

    isn’t member of a puerto rican party loosely aligned with republicans more correct?

  182. Links 11/30/12 | Mike the Mad Biologist:

    [...] Hates the Idea of Raising the Medicare Age Hilariously Clueless Shit Andrew Sullivan Says, Ctd. Of Course D.C. Should Be A State Pro-Life Activists Conveniently Ignore the Abortion Drop Creating A Valid Process For Using Teacher [...]

  183. Observer:

    I think you’re missing the point.

    As originally designed and before the seventeenth amendment, the Senate was the representative body of STATES which balanced out the House which was the representative body of the PEOPLE. That’s why representatives in the senate were the same regardless of the population or size.

    It’s only now after it was changed to a popular vote that you perceive an imbalance.

    The nature and intent of the Senate was changed. It was not ‘broken’ before.

Leave a comment

You must be