SOURCE: Apportionment.US


May 14, 2010 09:50 ET

Three-Judge Panel Grants Plaintiffs Oral Argument in Historic Lawsuit Coordinated by Apportionment.US Challenging Size of Congress

OXFORD, MS--(Marketwire - May 14, 2010) - (Apportionment.US) -- Plaintiffs learned yesterday that their request for oral argument was granted by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi -- the same day plaintiffs also submitted the final brief in the case. The lawsuit, Clemons v. Department of Commerce, challenges the constitutionality of the law passed in 1929 that permanently freezes the number of representatives in the U.S. House at 435 members due to the fact that such a small number inevitably produces an apportionment which violates the Constitution's "one-person, one-vote" requirement to an extraordinary degree.

"We applaud the Court's decision to hold oral argument for this issue which is so vital to our representative form of government," said Scott Scharpen, founder and president of Apportionment.US, the non-profit organization coordinating the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs. 

Speaking about the defendants in the case, Scharpen adds, "The government takes a truly radical and anti-constitutional position in this lawsuit, asserting that inequality of voting strength between congressional districts is not important. Furthermore, despite filing over 70 pages of brief material, the government never once affirms the right of voters to equal representation -- a right that the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized as fundamental."

This is the same federal government, however, that forces states to achieve precise equality of congressional districts within a small fraction of 1%, yet at the national level, the federal government permits inequality to exceed 80%. This disparity is projected to become even more inequitable as a result of the 2010 apportionment.

The brief filed yesterday was prepared by Michael Farris, lead counsel for the plaintiffs. Quoting from the brief, "The government could have embraced the necessity of applying one-person, one-vote to interstate apportionment while claiming that the current apportionment statute led to results that sufficiently safeguard the rights of voters to equal representation. It is pretty easy to understand why the government did not take this approach. The degree of inequality in the current scheme is so far beyond the pale that the only available defense would be to claim that Congress has total discretion and that proportional representation is not a constitutional requirement."

Oral argument will be heard on May 28, 2010 before the three-judge panel consisting of Circuit Judge Leslie H. Southwick, Chief District Judge Michael P. Mills, and District Judge W. Allen Pepper.

For a copy of the Plaintiffs' final brief, visit

Apportionment.US is a non-profit organization dedicated to achieving equal and appropriate representation in the U.S. House of Representatives for current and future generations of Americans. The organization also educates the public about the Constitution and House apportionment, as well as promotes the benefits of smaller congressional districts resulting from an increase in House membership.

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