Tuesday, April 20, 2004


Will & Co. are going at it over at Crescat regarding "over-representation."

In his most recent post, Will writes that "[The author in question] could have spoken strictly by saying 'the people of the big agricultural states' or 'voters in such states' are over-represented, which they are."

Are they though? If the Constitution creates a body--call it "the Senate"--in which various groups are going to be represented by geography rather than population, I know that "representation" (in terms of voters per Senator) won't be equal. Saying people are "over-represented" seems to make a judgment about the amount of representation that is desirable (I derive that judgment from the "over" part), and that somehow the group in question exceeds that desired representation.

But, it doesn't strike me as being that clear cut. At least there's an argument to be made that voters are represented exactly correctly -- their strength may be disproportionate to their numbers, but does this make over-representation? The constitutional scheme created a Senate based on geography, so it strikes me as wrong to say that there is over- or under-representation. For example, if state X had 80 million voters and three representatives and state Y had 20 voters and two representatives, those is state X are over-represented by Constitutional standards. If both X and Y had two senators, their representation is exactly as called for -- no more, no less. No state is over-represented, but neither are any "voters" or "people," as Will suggested.

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