Our nation is accustomed to usurpations from scotus. What is worse, long after the detrimental effects of its usurpations become clear, it is practically impossible to reverse the rot or even fire the judges. Among its worst decisions is one from fifty years ago that today’s social justice warriors just love. Alabama plaintiffs in Reynolds v. Sims (1964) sought 14th Amendment relief from state legislative districts with unequal populations.
Scotus: “We hold that, as a basic constitutional standard, the Equal Protection Clause requires that the seats in both houses of a bicameral state legislature must be apportioned on a population basis. Considerations of history, economic or other group interests, or area alone do not justify deviations from the equal-population principle.” Who knew the 14th Amendment of 1868 commanded state senatorial districts of equal population?
With these words, the philosopher-kings of the Warren court tossed aside three hundred years of good governing practice. Until Reynolds, states often apportioned senatorial districts by counties. After Reynolds, One-Man-One-Vote became the bumper sticker standard for all state legislative houses. This little known decision is at least partly, if not largely, responsible for the growing fiscal emergencies in many states. Reynolds v. Sims is the judicially imposed, unconstitutional state level equivalent of the 17th Amendment, which democratized the US Senate. Senator Dirksen of Illinois summed up the effect of Reynolds when he warned that Chicago would come to dominate Springfield. He was right, and with help from Reynolds, Illinois is near bankruptcy and losing population as people flee high taxes, higher unemployment, and societal destruction.
Representation by county districts goes back to colonial times. In Virginia, after 1670, freeholders in possession of at least one hundred unsettled acres, twenty-five homesteaded acres, or a building lot in Norfolk or Williamsburg, traveled to county or town courthouses on election day to publicly cast their vote for their candidate to the House of Burgesses.
Special delegates to the Virginia Ratification Convention of 1788 were likewise elected by county districts and one each from Norfolk and Williamsburg.
Under the new US Constitution, states not only kept their colonial tradition in senatorial districts by county, their system resembled some key features of the US Senate. State senates had fewer members with longer terms of office than state Assemblymen. Of first importance is that a county-based senate tended to reduce the concentration of power in factious cities and diffuse it across the states. Cities and towns might get more senators, but not as many as they would by strict observance of one-man-one-vote.
For example, in my home state of Florida, its 1838 Constitution provided for sixteen senatorial districts, with fifteen of them represented by one senator. Twelve districts consisted of a single county. With an eye toward the distribution of population across the new state, two districts were composed of two counties; one district was composed of three counties, and the district surrounding the state capital of Tallahassee was assigned two senators.
Florida’s 1885 post-14th Amendment Constitution continued in the county-as-senatorial-district method.
Florida’s 1968 Constitution was amended to reflect Reynolds: “The legislature at its regular session in the second year following each decennial census, by joint resolution, shall apportion the state in accordance with the constitution of the state and of the United States into not less than thirty nor more than forty consecutively numbered senatorial districts of either contiguous, overlapping or identical territory . . . “
Should the legislature balk, the FL state supreme court is to apportion representatives and senators! This isn’t republican government. This is an effect of Reynolds.
In part II, we’ll look more closely at Reynolds and its assault on the Constitution and free government. We are the many; our oppressors are the few. Be proactive. Be a Re-Founder. Join Convention of States. Sign the COS Petition.