Sheyman at kentlaw.edu
Wed Feb 18 15:33:15 PST 2009
If I'm reading the table right, then that 12 percent is the total population of the smallest 20 states. So then a majority of the population of those states is more like 6 percent. If that majority were all to vote for the same party, and elect 40 Senators (which as Steve Jamar notes isn't realistic), then Senators elected by only 6 percent of the population could block any legislation in Congress -- an even more dramatic statistic.
Steven J. Heyman
Professor of Law
Chicago-Kent College of Law
565 W. Adams Street
Chicago, IL 60661
sheyman at kentlaw.edu
From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu on behalf of Steven Jamar
Sent: Wed 2/18/2009 5:12 PM
To: CONLAWPROFS professors
Subject: [POSSIBLE SPAM] 40 Senators
12% of the population of the United States can stop any legislation
from going forward in Congress.
Even assuming wikipedia's numbers are off, they are probably close
enough for this calculation.
Of course not all of those states are represented by just one party,
which makes the stat less meaningful in practice, but it is still a
bit hard to consider the Senate a representative democratic body with
that sort of population distortion.
At the other end, 40% of the people live in 6 states -- or have a
combined 12 senators -- and so are dramatically under represented.
The bargain made in the original constitution for state power
checking federal power by the vehicle of the Senate seems more than a
bit off target today. And, the provision about the Senate
representation is functionally unamendable with effective unit veto
Prof. Steven D. Jamar vox: 202-806-8017
Associate Director, Institute of Intellectual Property and Social
Howard University School of Law fax: 202-806-8567
"The most precious things one gets in life are not those one gets for
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