Article the First

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The Congressional Apportionment Amendment (or CAA, also referred to as Article the First) is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution. Its purpose was to regulate the size of congressional districts for representation in the House of Representatives

It was the first of twelve amendments produced by the 1st Congress on September 25, 1789, and submitted to the state legislatures for ratification, but the only one not currently part of the Constitution. The third through twelfth articles were ratified by 1791 and became the Constitution's first ten amendments (the Bill of Rights), while the second article fell far short in the 1790s but was eventually ratified in 1992 to become the 27th Amendment. The CAA remained one state short of the required three-quarters (Delaware rejected it while approving the ten successful amendments) for most of the period between 1791 and 1803, after which it was left behind by the admission of further states.

Text[edit]

Article the first... After the first enumeration required by the first article of the Constitution, there shall be one Representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than one hundred Representatives, nor less than one Representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of Representatives shall amount to two hundred; after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than two hundred Representatives, nor more than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons.[1]

Background and history[edit]

This amendment was proposed as a means to control the size of electoral districts and to ensure a minimum representation for the common people in the new government defined by United States Constitution.[2][3][4][5][6][7]

The Federalists attempted and largely succeeded in defusing the issue through their acquiescence to amendments concerning the matter beginning with the Massachusetts ratification convention. A version of the CAA was prominent among the initial twenty or so amendments that were defined by the various ratifying conventions. The assurance that these amendments would be addressed in the First Congress was essential to the ratification of the new Constitutional government.

By 1791, the legislatures of a sufficient number of states had ratified the last ten of the twelve proposed amendments, which became the Bill of Rights, but not the first two. The CAA fell one state short, having been rejected by Delaware when it ratified the ten on January 28, 1790. The second of the twelve amendments, which concerned Congressional compensation, was ratified more than two centuries later in 1992 and belatedly became the Twenty-seventh Amendment.

The CAA was ratified by the legislatures of the following eleven states:[8]

  1. New Jersey on November 20, 1789
  2. Maryland on December 19, 1789
  3. North Carolina on December 22, 1789
  4. South Carolina on January 19, 1790
  5. New Hampshire on January 25, 1790
  6. New York on February 24, 1790
  7. Rhode Island on June 7, 1790
  8. Pennsylvania on September 21, 1791 (after rejecting it on March 10, 1790)
  9. Vermont on November 3, 1791
  10. Virginia on December 15, 1791
  11. Kentucky on June 24, 1792

At the time it was sent to the states for ratification, an affirmative vote by 10 states would have made this amendment operational, When Vermont became the 14th state in the Union on March 4, 1791, that number rose to 11, and when Kentucky was admitted, it rose to 12. To become part of the Constitution today, ratification by 38 states (an additional 27) would be required.

According to the Supreme Court's 1939 ruling in Coleman v. Miller, because there is no deadline for its ratification, The CAA is technically still pending before state lawmakers.

Analysis[edit]

Under the terms of the proposed amendment, were the U.S. population to have been below 3 million, each state would have had one Representative in the United States House of Representatives for every 30,000 persons.

Were the U.S. population to have reached 3 million with the amendment in force, the total number of Representatives would have been recalculated. To reach the minimum of 100 representatives, Congress would initially have had to keep the district size at 30,000 per representative.

As the population would have approached 8 million, Congress could have gradually increased the size of districts from 30,000 to 40,000 and still meet the minimum of 100 representatives. This would have been allowed by the amendment, as it says "...there shall be not less than one hundred Representatives, nor less than one Representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of Representatives shall amount to two hundred; ...".

However, even at a district size of 40,000, the number of representatives would inevitably have grown to 200 when the population would have reached 8 million, thus triggering the final clause. It would have been impossible to satisfy with a population between 8 and 10 million, as it says "...there shall not be less than two hundred Representatives, nor more than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons". For a population of 8 million, a district size of one per at least 50,000 yields at most 160 representatives, below the minimum of 200.

The final clause's conditions would have been satisfied only by a population size of 10 million or above. The clause stipulates a minimum district size of 50,000, and at that minimum size, a population of 10 million would have yielded the minimum of 200 representatives. As the final clause only stipulates a minimum district size, it would thereafter have allowed for any number of representatives between 200 and the current population divided by 50,000. At the approximate current U.S. population of 310,000,000, this would yield a House of Representatives with 200 to 6,200 members, depending on the district size.

Currently, there are 435 members of the House of Representatives and six non-voting Delegates from the District of Columbia and the territories, which do not possess statehood status. The figure of 435 is set by statute (2 U.S.C. 2a & 2b) and the allocation of seats among the 50 states is calculated by using "method of equal proportions". The present statutes would comply with the article's final language so long as there are at least 50,000 people in each Congressional district; as apportioned after the 2010 census, even the smallest district (the lone district of Wyoming) far exceeds this number. Therefore, ratification of this article today would have no impact on the present Congressional apportionment process, though it could impact future changes to the process.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Congressional Research Service. (1992). Proposed amendments not ratified by the states. In The Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation. (Senate Document No. 103–6). (Johnny H. Killian and George A. Costello, Eds.). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.