Monday, January 25, 2016

TWEET TWEET

Recently, I have started to tweet. Yes, that’s a very funny noise for an old man to make. Of course, I am not actually trying to imitate a canary.

No sir, I have aspired to be a modern man. A child of the mew millennium. I have opened an account on Twitter and I have begun to spray the Clouds with snippets of superannuated judicial wisdom.

I haven’t a lot of followers so far, but if my followers don’t follow me any more than I follow the people I am following, it really doesn’t matter.

I just send my quips to famous people so I can tell myself that I am participating in the public dialog. It’s a heady feeling to be exchanging tweets with Megyn Kelly, even though we never talk about the same thing.

Anyway, I did get a tweet the other day that seems to have come from someone who knows who I am and has read some of my writings. The tweeter feigned surprise that a former supreme court chief justice had never heard of one state, one vote.

A little obtuse, but I took it to mean that the writer is critical of my effort to organize an Article V amendatory constitutional convention, and that he, or she, is a devotee of one of the several other efforts to call a convention of the states.

Indeed, the tweeter may well have viewed the little video I included in my last blog. In it, I rather pointedly said that an Article V convention is an assembly of the people of the states or their representatives. That proposition flies in the face of those who insist that Article V authorizes a convention of the states – meaning the state governments or the state legislatures rather than the people of the states.

There is a very significant difference.

First of all, no state legislature is elected to bargain away the sovereignty of the people. Their role is to exercise the people’s sovereignty by passing laws. That is what they are commissioned to do.

The preamble of the constitution of 1789 begins with a these words, “We the People of the United States…”  It does not say, as the Articles of Confederation said “We the undersigned delegates of the states…”

The reason is obvious. The founders knew that a constitution is the solemn covenant by which the people give their consent to be governed. It is, as George Washington said, “the explicit and authoritative act of the whole people.” 

It may be, and indeed is, argued that the state legislatures speak for the people of the state, and therefore, if the legislature agrees, the people have agreed.

The problem with that is that every state except Nebraska has a bi-cameral legislature. This means that, like the national government, state governments represent a compromise between populations and communities, with the larger house being more attuned to the actual population.

And even if only the general assembly or house of representatives is considered, there is enormous disparity among the lower houses of the fifty states legislatures.

California’s general assembly consists of only 80 people to represent 38 million inhabitants. At the other end of the spectrum, New Hampshire’s 1.3 million people are represented by 400 members of its House of Representatives. Which means that Golden State politicians speak for nearly half a million people while every 3,291 folks in the First Presidential Primary State, have a voice in Concord.

The other 48 states have widely scattered constituent ratios. Only seven of them are between 40 and 60 thousand to one.

The bottom line is this: even given that 38 states must ratify a constitutional amendment, it is essential that the voice of each state is the voice of its people. 

In Convention USA, www.conventionusa.org we have done the leg work. Without partisan gerrymandering, we have created 1,110 districts with constituent ratios approximating one to fifty thousand. The delegates will represent the whole people, even as they vote state by state.

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