U.S. files motion to dismiss apportionment.us suit – argues Constitution and Supreme Court allows for fixed size
Background on the suit filed by an Ole Miss student in Oxford can be found here.
Plaintiffs are voters in five states who claim that the Constitution requires the House of
Representatives to expand in size to either 932 or 1,761 Representatives based on the results of
the 2000 decennial census. Plaintiffs argue that the 2001 Congressional apportionment plan
created interstate Congressional districts that vary in population, and that this variance violates
the constitutional requirement that Representatives be apportioned to States “according to their
The same premise has been rejected by the only federal court that has considered it.
Subject to an explicit minimum and maximum, the Constitution grants Congress discretion to fix
the size of the House of Representatives. Plaintiffs’ argument to the contrary is premised on a
line of decisions requiring the States to achieve population equality, to the extent practicable, in
drawing the Congressional districts within their States. The Supreme Court has already held this
standard inapplicable to Congress’s apportionment of Representatives among the States. The
Court explained, and has since reiterated, that the same standard of population equality cannot
apply to Congressional apportionment because the Constitution itself makes population equality
among interstate Congressional districts virtually impossible. Furthermore, over two hundred
years of implementation of the apportionment provisions of the Constitution confirm the broad
discretion the Constitution vests in Congress to fix the size of the House of Representatives,
irrespective of population disparities that result from the number selected by Congress.
Plaintiffs’ challenge is also barred by the six-year statute of limitations applicable to this
action and/or the equitable doctrine of laches. Plaintiffs challenge the apportionment plan that
followed the 2000 decennial census, which the President transmitted to Congress in January
2001. Instead of filing this lawsuit in 2001, however, Plaintiffs waited over eight years to
challenge the plan. In those eight years, four Congressional election cycles have passed. The
November 2010 mid-term elections are the only elections that remain before the apportionment
plan Plaintiffs challenge will be superseded as a result of the next decennial census. Even if this
lawsuit could be resolved by this Court and the Supreme Court prior to November 2010, the
tumult that would accompany the rapid addition of many hundreds of Congressional districts
before that time, and after numerous state candidate filing deadlines and primaries will have
passed, strongly supports application of the doctrine of laches.