6 The Congress
6.1 Legislative powers
6.2 The powers of Congress
The powers of Congress follows the U.S. constitution with the following major exceptions (see also "Legislative powers" and "The people") :
This section is arranged in increasing order of concurrence, i.e. first are listed those powers which each house of Congress possess independently, then those issues requiring concurrence by both houses together, then those requiring two thirds majority, then those requiring reconsideration and a supermajority.
6.3 The Senate
6.3.1 Number of senators
Until there are 25 states the determination of the number of senators (2 from each state) corresponds to U.S. 1.3.1 and the general sense of Switzerland Art. 80.
The rest of the section is intended to accommodate an unspecified number of states.
This section corresponds to U.S. 1.4.1, but instead of giving the ultimate power of regulating elections to the Congress, it grants this power to the states.
The co-sovereignty of the Confederation implies that the Confederation in principle ought to determine its own election procedures. This principle is counterbalanced by a desire to provide room for innovation and flexibility. The proposed section enables the states to adopt modes of election according to local traditions.
6.4 The House of Representatives
The purpose of section 6.4 is to fix the number of Representatives in the House of Representatives, provide for reapportionment according to changing state populations and fix the maximum term for representatives.
6.4.1 Apportioning representatives among the states
Subsection 6.4.1 fixes the number of Representatives at 250. Representatives are apportioned according to population. The proposed number of representatives makes the House small enough to be a forum of real debate and vigor, and yet large enough to ensure diversity.
Apportionment according to population also ensures that each citizen vote has equal value. Subsection 6.4.1 corresponds to U.S. 1.2.3. It is similar in principle to the Australian constitution's section 24. The subsection is not affected by population variations (typically increases due to population growth or the admission of new states).
The proposed apportioning of representatives among the states allows a dispersed representation in a European Congress while retaining a relatively small House of Representatives. As Figure European Confederation, Distribution of Representatives shows the Russian group makes up only 42 of 250 representatives.
Redistricting and gerrymandering
The proposed constitution does not touch on the subject of redistricting within the states.
In principle redistricting can be viewed as reapportioning extended downwards to each individual congressional district. In the US, the courts have decided that congressional districts within each state must have very nearly equal population. Similarly the introduction of "one vote one value", was recommended by the Australian Constitutional Commission 1988. ("One vote, one value" is the Australian way of saying that districts must have the same population so that effectively each vote counts the same.)
The Constitution does provide for "one vote one
value" at the state level, but it leaves the states free to decide on
their own methods for internal apportioning. This flexibility may be particularly
appropriate for states deciding to pool their populations for obtaining
representation in Congress. Any deviations from one vote one value may also be
alleviated through a state constitutional initiative, or by the erection of a
new state. State freedom in regulating elections also implies freedom to choose
between proportional, first past the post or other election methods.
Copyright © 1991-2003 John F. Knutsen
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