"One Person One Vote" Was a Huge Mistake

The Supreme Court's decision to require all legislative districts to be "apportioned substantially on a population basis" was a ludicrous decision that has caused a multitude of problems.

The Congress of the United States is a bicameral (two-chambered) legislature. The House of Representatives is apportioned roughly according to population of the various states of the union. Within those states, the various House districts must be generally equal in population.

The Senate is a completely different animal, however. Every state in the union, regardless of population, is given two senators in the United States Senate. This is a very healthy balance in lawmaking, pitting the overweening effect of large states in the House with the disproportionally stronger effect of the smaller states in the Senate.

The concept of "one person one vote" was popularized by the Baker v Carr Supreme Court decision in 1962, and hardened by the Court's 8-1 decision in Reynolds v Sims in 1964. These decisions effectively made it impossible for state legislatures, wishing to emulate the United States Congress, to have one house of their bicameral legislatures apportioned according to geography rather than strictly according to population. Such a clear misunderstanding of the Constitution of the United States has unfortunately been matched several times since by a Supreme Court that until recently has been largely out of touch with anything but a liberal and cultural elitist point of view. Most members of the court for the last 50 years have cared very little about the Constitution's original meaning.

This is why Robert Bork was not approved by the Senate to sit on the Court--because he cared about the meaning of the Constitution, because the Senate was aware of this fact, and because most of the members of the Senate were worried that Bork would somehow singlehandedly reverse all of their "progress" of the last several years. Somehow, the Congress failed to "Bork" Clarence Thomas, and in addition to him, a near majority, including Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito, of the Court regards the basis of our country instead of wanting to be like the cesspool that is Europe.

In Utah, "one person one vote" has meant that Utah citizens living in outlying areas have very little say about what goes on in their state. Prior to 1964, the Utah Senate was apportioned at one senator for each county. This gave small counties, like Daggett (population 921 as of the 2000 census), Piute (1,435), and Rich (1,961) equal influence on state affairs that would affect them equally along with such large counties as Salt Lake, Utah, Davis, and Weber. The disproportionate effect was counteracted by the Utah House of Representatives, which always has been apportioned according to population.

It is reasonable to believe that Utah would not have become as socialist as it has become in many areas--welfare, education, taxation, regulations on business, etc.--if it had been allowed to retain its Senate apportionment according to county.

Metropolitan populations have very different needs and persepectives on life than do rural populations. Because they have a lot more people, metropolitan areas will always win the day in a "one person one vote" political environment. With "one person one vote" metro populations effect far more negative effects on rural populations--than they know or care about--than they would in a legislature like Utah had before the Supreme Court pulled the rug out from under us.

As with any decision the Supreme Court makes, it is not about who wins or loses. The important point to consider is what is right. What is right is what was intended by the original Document until such time as it is amended. The Supreme Court cannot amend the document.

Clearly the Constitution intended for States to apportion their legislatures as they see fit.

I hope we are close enough a fair and correct makeup of the Supreme Court so that Baker v Carr and Reynolds v Sims can be thrown on the ash heap of history, and then we can let each individual state determine the composition of its own legislature, as it once was and should be.


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