This blog is about the malapportionment of state school aid in New Jersey, but this post is about the malapportionment of the US Senate.
A little-discussed but overridingly important fact that is that in the 215th Congress, the 52 Republican Senators actually represent 35 million fewer Americans than the 48 Democratic Senators. (see below)
Over time, Senate malapportionment has become more extreme and more consequential.
In the First Congress, half of the Senate represented a third of the country. In the 215th Congress half of the Senate will represent only 15% of the country. In 1790, Virginia, the largest state, had a population that was 12 times the smallest state's, Delaware. In 2017, the largest state, California, will have a population that is over 60 times larger than the smallest state, Wyoming.
As the power and spending of the Federal government have increased the consequences of Senate malapportionment have grown more severe. Small states get more appropriations per capita and due to the formula used for block grants, get more federal aid. It's little discussed, but most federal block grants give 0.5% of the total grant to every state equally and only thereafter distribute based on need or population. The small-state minimum has a particularly large affect on education funding.
What alarms me the most is how the undemocratic presidency combines with the even more undemocratic Senate to control the most egregiously undemocratic Supreme Court.
Donald Trump was elected with fewer votes than Hillary Clinton, which is unjust enough, but now he is going to get his Supreme Court nominee confirmed by an even more undemocratically elected Senate? It's just Constitutional flaw multiplied by Constitutional flaw multiplied by Constitutional flaw.
|Judicial review is a big gun. It can't be aimed very easily, |
but once it has a law in its sights, there's nothing anyone
can do to prevent the law from being destroyed.
The Supreme Court - inherently the most undemocratic branch of government - now it is going to spend the next few years gutting duly-passed legislation.
I am no fan of judicial activism in general. I have criticized New Jersey's Supreme Court for stretching the Education Clause beyond recognition and for gutting our State Constitution's Debt Limitation Clause.
BUT, as irresponsible as the NJ Supreme Court has been, at least New Jersey's liberal Supreme Court majority was installed by democratically elected governors and Senators, a fact that doesn't apply to the United States Supreme Court.
Because liberals won huge Supreme Court victories in Brown v Board of Education and Roe v Wade they venerate the Supreme Court and judicial activism. The ACLU doesn't even purport to give a sh*t what a majority thinks and works entirely through the courts. New Jersey liberals in particular like judicial activism because they won on Abbott and Mt. Laurel.
However, the artillery of judicial activism can be fired at liberal laws just as easily as it can be fired at conservative laws. At some point I hope to see more liberals realize that their veneration of judicial activism is misplaced as it rests on an institution that is undemocratic in multiple ways and which they are not guaranteed to control.
|Number of Republican Senators||Number of Democrat Senators||Population||People Represented By Republicans||People Represented by Democrats|