Monday, August 31, 2009

The tyranny of small state senators

From Sandy Levinson at Balkinization:

The one and only reason anyone takes such denizens as Max Baucus, Kent Conrad, Olympia Snowe, Charles Grassley, Jeff Bingaman, and Michael Enzi at all seriously is because, representing a grand total of 2.77 of the American population (including 0% of our most urban populations or what used to be called the "industrial heartland" of America), they comprise 6% of the votes in the Senate.

Professor Levinson is analyzing Paul Krugman’s column in the NYT today about the role of lobbying money in the health care debate. It probably won’t come as a surprise to you, boys and girls, that Professor Levinson is a critic of the way power is distributed in the Senate and advocates a constitutional convention to deal with what amounts to overrepresentation of citizens of small states in that body.

There are actually SEVEN states that have more senators than representatives: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming.

The same overrepresentation occurs, of course, in presidential elections where there is one elector for each member of a state’s congressional delegation.

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