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Section Two of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Census

My research into the reapportionment process is still ongoing, and I’ve been working through the following problem:  Is the Commerce Department’s failure to undertake a Section Two review as part of its reapportionment duty unlawful or is it the result of an unconstitutional statute?

One way of thinking about the issue is that Congress delegated its Section Two authority to the Commerce Department in the relevant statutes, but the Department has refused to exercise that power and perform its designated function. Here is the most straightforward argument on that score–2 U.S.C. Section 6 provides:

Should any State deny or abridge the right of any of the male inhabitants thereof, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, to vote at any election named in the amendment to the Constitution, article 14, section 2, except for participation in the rebellion or other crime, the number of Representatives apportioned to such State shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall have to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State

This statute was enacted by Congress in 1872 and closely follows the language of Section Two. Since the Commerce Department has never tried to apply this provision or examined whether it should be applied, perhaps the answer is that the Department is just not following the statute.

But this analysis is not so straightforward. There is a strong case that 2 U.S.C. Section 6 is unconstitutional because of its use of the word “male.” Though this is what Section Two says, a statute that says makes an explicit distinction based on sex must satisfy heightened scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause. 2 U.S.C. Section 6 cannot meet the standard, especially given that the choice of the word male in the Fourteenth Amendment rested in large part on the fact that no state allowed women to vote. Thus, the Commerce Department is probably right in declining to enforce this law or collect “male-only data” out of concern that they would be acting unconstitutionally.

What about the other statutes that govern reapportionment? More on that next week.

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UC Davis Law Review, Issue 50:3 (February 2017)

Articles

Justice Visualized: Courts and the Body Camera Revolution
Mary D. Fan

Implementing Proportionality
Perry L. Moriearty

Judging Immigration Equity: Deportation and Proportionality in the Supreme Court
Jason A. Cade

Analyzing Social Impairments Under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act
Susan D. Carle

How Big Data Can Increase Originalism’s Methodological Rigor: Using Corpus Linguistics to Reveal Original Language Conventions
Lee J. Strang

Papers from the Conference on California Agriculture: Water, Labor, and Immigration

Some Reflections on Contemporary Issues in California Farm Labor
William B. Gould IV

The Power of a Presumption: California as a Laboratory for Unauthorized Immigrant Workers’ Rights
Kati L. Griffith

Notes

Vindication of Federal Statutory Rights: The Future of Cost-Based Challenges to Arbitration Clauses After American Express v. Italian Colors Restaurant and Green Tree v. Randolph
Olga Bykov

Policing Reasonable Accommodations for Individuals with Disabilities
Kelley B. Harrington

lawreview.law.ucdavis.edu

2

Some Thoughts on Judge Gorsuch’s Nomination

A colleague of mine once said that in the first half of your career you are trying to figure out what is right. In the second half, you are trying to convince everyone that you are right. I guess I’m still in the first stage, and in that spirit I want to make some observations about Judge Gorsuch. (For the record, I think that he should be confirmed by the Senate.)

First, I think that his nomination shows that originalism is alive and well.  After Justice Scalia died, some people (like Eric Posner) declared that philosophy dead on the assumption that nobody else who cared about interpreting the Constitution in that way would be confirmed. He was wrong. The elevation of Judge Gorsuch does not make the Court an originalist institution, of course, but there could be more Trump appointments in the coming years–you never know.

Second, administrative law is poised for some major changes.  Over on Balkinization they just held an online Symposium in Adrian Vermeule’s new book Law’s Abnegation, which states as its central thesis:

Ronald Dworkin once imagined law as an empire and judges as its princes. But over time, the arc of law has bent steadily toward deference to the administrative state. Adrian Vermeule argues that law has freely abandoned its imperial pretensions, and has done so for internal legal reasons.

In area after area, judges and lawyers, working out the logical implications of legal principles, have come to believe that administrators should be granted broad leeway to set policy, determine facts, interpret ambiguous statutes, and even define the boundaries of their own jurisdiction. Agencies have greater democratic legitimacy and technical competence to confront many issues than lawyers and judges do. And as the questions confronting the state involving climate change, terrorism, and biotechnology (to name a few) have become ever more complex, legal logic increasingly indicates that abnegation is the wisest course of action.

As Law’s Abnegation makes clear, the state did not shove law out of the way. The judiciary voluntarily relegated itself to the margins of power. The last and greatest triumph of legalism was to depose itself.

So this confident argument does not look so convincing now.  Judge Gorsuch has openly called for Chevron to be cut back or overruled, and he’s not the only one on the Court who feels that way.  Are there five votes to gut Chevron once he is confirmed?  I doubt it, but who knows.

One way of thinking about these two points is that a little intellectual humility goes a long way. The other is that when everybody says buy, it’s probably time to sell.

 

 

 

4

The Twenty-Fifth Amendment and Mental Illness

There is a fantasy making the rounds that the Twenty-Fifth Amendment will be invoked to remove the President from office because he is “unable” to discharge his duties.  This is just one of the many silly attempts to find a constitutional silver bullet to avoid the reality that there will be four years of this Administration (rogue electors, Emoluments Clause, impeachment, etc.).

Still, I came across an interesting article by Robert Gilbert that was published in 2010 by Fordham Law Review.  He pointed out, which I didn’t know, that at least two Presidents suffered from severe depression in office due to personal tragedies.  One was Franklin Pierce, whose son was killed in a train accident shortly before the Inauguration. The other was Calvin Coolidge, whose son died from a freakish staph infection after playing tennis at the White House.  Indeed, Coolidge’s passivity in office may have had less to do with ideology and more to do with grief and disinterest in work after his son’s death. In neither case, of course, was there a constitutional mechanism available for the President to step aside temporarily or be permanently relieved of his duties (short of impeachment). Even now, one can see that a comparable situation would present some really challenging problems that are different from the standard thought that a president could be physically disabled.

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FAN 140 (First Amendment News) Will Judge Hardiman be the nominee? A sketch for a First Amendment portrait

The talk in the air is thick: Third Circuit Judge Thomas Hardiman could be President Trump’s pick to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Already much has been written about the Judge (see e.g., SCOTUSblog #1, SCOTUSBLOG #2, and Bloomberg-BNA), but what more might be added about his views on freedom of expression and the First Amendment?

Below is an sketch of his First Amendment views as expressed in B.H. v. Easton Area School District (3rd Cir. 2013), a case decided by the Third Circuit sitting en banc.

Judge Thomas Hardiman

Mary Catherine Roper of the ACLU of Pennsylvania argued on behalf of the Appellees, while while John E. Freund, III of King, Spry, Herman, Freund & Faul argued on behalf of the school district.

Focus on Alito’s Morse concurrence 

The issue in the case was was whether the First Amendment rights of middle school students were violtaed when the school district banned them from wearing “I ♥ boobies! (KEEP A BREAST)” braclets as part of a nationally recognized breast-cancer-awareness campaign.  The vote sustaining the First Amendment claim was 9-5, with Judge D. Brooks Smith writing for the majority and Judges Hardiman and Joseph Greenaway, Jr. writing the dissents.

In the back-and-forth between the majority and the dissenters, Justice Samuel Alito’s concurrence in Morse v. Frederick (2007) was referenced 51 times. Nonetheless, when the matter was presented to the Supreme Court, the School District’s petition was denied.

As the majority in Easton Area School District saw it, “Justice Alito’s concurrence, which it viewed as determinative, “did not permit the restriction of speech that could plausibly be interpreted as political or social speech.”

Judge Hardiman took exception. In his dissent, and in the Greenaway dissent he joined, Hardiman’s views as evidenced in both of those opinions focused on six basic points, which are summarized below:

  1. Justice Alito’s Morse concurrence was not dispositive: “The notion that Justice Alito‘s concurrence in Morse is the controlling opinion flows from a misunderstanding of the Supreme Court‘s ―narrowest grounds‖ doctrine as established in Marks v. United States, 430 U.S. 188 (1977). . . . [I]n the six years since Morse was decided, nine of ten appellate courts have cited as its holding the following standard articulated by Chief Justice Roberts in his opinion for the Court.”
  2. The Tinker precedent has limited constitutional vitality: “‘Since Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School Dist. (1969), every Supreme Court decision looking at student speech has expanded the kinds of speech schools can regulate.'”
  3. Lack of guidance for school officials: “The Majority‟s test leaves school districts essentially powerless to exercise any discretion and extends the First Amendment‟s protection to a breadth that knows no bounds. As such, how will similarly-situated school districts apply [the majority’s] amorphous test going forward?”
  4. What speech may be regulated? “[W]hat words or phrases fall outside of the ambiguous designation other than the ‘seven dirty words’?”
  5. How to judge the validity of the speech claims: “[H]ow does a school district ever assess the weight or validity of political or social commentary?”
  6. Slippery slope problems: “Applying the Majority‟s test, “I ♥ penises,” “I ♥ vaginas,” “I ♥ testicles,” or “I ♥ breasts” would apparently be phrases or slogans that school districts would be powerless to address. Would the invocation of any of these slogans in a cancer awareness effort fail to garner protection under the Majority‟s test?”

Judge Hardiman closed his dissent with this: “As this case demonstrates, running a school is more complicated now than ever before. Administrators and teachers are not only obliged to teach core subjects, but also find themselves mired in a variety of socio-political causes during school time. And they do so in an era when they no longer possess plenary control of their charges as they did when they acted in loco parentis.”

What might we infer?

So what does this case tell us about Judge Hardiman and his views of the First Amendment? Here are a few preliminary takes:

  1. He is a legal pragmatist: If his views in Easton Area School District reveal anything, they suggest that Judge Hardiman is a man with his eye very much focused on institutional needs.
  2. He favors bright line rules over open-ended ones: Where institutional norms are threatened, Judge Hardiman prefers bright-line guidance, even if it means denying a First Amendment claim.
  3. He has little interest in reviving certain Warren Court First Amendment precedents: While it is true that as a circuit judge he must honor Supreme Court precedent rather evade it, still, the tenor of his dissent strongly suggests that Judge Hardiman has little or no interest in extending the Tinker precedent.
  4. He is skeptical “political speech” labels. Tagging something as “political speech” is no talismanic pass to constitutional protection. Rather, as Judge Hardiman sees it, such claims must first prove their validity and then their worth.
  5. Narrow opinions are preferable to broad ones: Consistent with what is set out above, Judge Hardiman does not seem to be the kind of jurist who would feel comfortable with First Amendment opinions such as those in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964) or United States v. Stevens (2010).

Bottom line: Don’t expect to find a First Amendment Brennan or Black or Kennedy or Roberts in Thomas Hardiman; he does not seem to have that much free-speech spunk.

 Even so, and to be fair, all of this is based on one case only, which may not be true to the full measure of the man.  For now, let’s wait and see if he gets the nod, and if so, I will then say more.

For more, see David Keating, Make the First Amendment Great Again? Trump’s Potential Supreme Court Nominees’ Views on Free Speech, Center for Competitive Politics 

The University of Oregon Controversy

Free speech is central to the academic mission and is the central tenet of a free and democratic society. The University encourages and supports open, vigorous, and challenging debate across the full spectrum of human issues as they present themselves to this community University of Oregon report (2016) (professor’s free-speech activity violated school’s racial-harassment policy)

This free-speech controversy has been brewing in the land that many believe has the most robust protection of any state in the nation — this thanks to a spate of state constitutional free-speech cases dating back to some opinions by Justice Hans Linde (see e.g., State v. Robertson (1982)).

Professor Nancy Shurtz

But all of that is coming into question on the very campus where Linde taught before he was elevated to the state court high bench.  It started with a report that a UO law professor, Nancy Shurtz, wore  black makeup on her face and hands at a Halloween costume party she hosted at her home for UO law students, former students, and faculty members.

Professor violated racial-harassment policy 

I intended to provoke a thoughtful discussion on racism in our society, in our educational institutions and in our professions. In retrospect, my decision to wear black makeup was wrong. It provoked a discussion of racism, but not as I intended. — Nancy Shurtz

Professor Shurtz’s conduct was deemed to have violated school’s discrimination policy. According to December 21, 2016 statement from the office of the Provost:

Though [our] report recognizes that Professor Shurtz did not demonstrate ill intent in her choice of costume, it concludes that her actions had a negative impact on the university’s learning environment and constituted harassment under the UO’s antidiscrimination policies. Furthermore, the report finds that pursuant to applicable legal precedent, the violation and its resulting impact on students in the law school and university outweighed free speech protections provided under the Constitution and our school’s academic freedom policies.

Professor Shurtz was officially reprimanded; last semester her courses were cancelled. She is not teaching this semester but is scheduled to return in February.

→ The two lawyers who prepared the report were: Edwin A. Harnden and Shayda Z. Le.

→ Professor Shurtz criticized the report, which she said should not have been released: “This release violated rights of employees to confidentiality guaranteed by law. In addition, the report contains numerous mistakes, errors and omissions that if corrected would have put matters in a different light.”

→ An Open Letter from members of the Oregon Law faculty calling for colleague’s resignation

 → Lawrence Haun, Petition: Support Academic Freedom at the University of Oregon

U.O. law prof weighs in

Professor Ofer Raban

Writing in the Oregonian, first in November and then it late December, University of Oregon Law professor Ofer Raban led the criticism of the University’s action. In his first op-ed, Professor Raban wrote: “This regrettable Halloween event was a teachable moment, but it ended up teaching many wrong lessons. Surely, this was a moment to teach about racial sensitivity and awareness of history, and of what it means to live as a racial minority in this country. But it was also a moment to teach other valuable lessons for law students: Do not rush to judgment. Deliberate carefully, away from emotions running high. Consider all the relevant factors. And show compassion for human fallibility.

At a time of an emboldened pernicious racism, the refusal to recognize the distinction between malicious racism and a stupid but well-intentioned mistake is not only a moral and legal travesty, it is also fodder for the real enemies of racial equality.”

And then in response to the University’s report, he wrote that it “fails to mention or analyze the Oregon Constitution’s free speech provision, which Oregon courts ordinarily address even before the First Amendment since it provides greater free speech protections. . . .”

“Whatever the reason for administrators’ responses, let’s not forget what’s at stake in this sordid affair. According to the university, a professor is guilty of racial discrimination and harassment for donning a costume that sought to advocate for racial equality. And that act of political expression is not protected by the rights to free speech nor by academic freedom.This is a sad day for the freedom of speech and expression at the University of Oregon.”

Volokh joins in

The University’s action also drew sharp criticism from UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh: “contrary to the university’s explicit assurances in its free speech policy, the university report shows that ‘[t]he belief that an opinion is pernicious, false, and in any other way despicable, detestable, offensive or ‘just plain wrong’ would indeed be viewed as ‘grounds for its suppression.'”

Tucker Carlson & Professor Eugene Volokh

“[T]he report reasons that university professor free speech is limited by the so-called Pickering v. Bd. of Ed. balancing test, under which government employee speech is unprotected if ‘the State, as an employer, in maintaining the efficiency of its operations and avoiding potential or actual disruption’ outweighs ‘the employee’s interest in commenting on the matter of public concern.'”

“There is good reason to think that the university misapplied this test here, especially in light of lower court precedent (see, e.g., these posts by Prof. Josh BlackmanHans Bader, and Prof. Jonathan Turley, as well as Levin v. Harleston (2d Cir. 1992)). Given that universities are supposed to be a place for debate and controversy, the tendency of university professor speech to spark debate and controversy — even debate and controversy that many people find offensive or disquieting — shouldn’t strip it of protection in a university community, even if it might be seen as doing so in, say, a police department. But the Pickering test is notoriously mushy, as such “balancing” tests tend to be, so I’ll set it aside here.”

See Professor Volokh being interviewed by Fox’s Tucker Carlson

U.O. President responds 

In light of such criticisms, the University’s President Michael H. Schill (who is a law professor) issued a response, which in part reads:

“When Professor Shurtz invited her two classes to her home for a Halloween party on October 31 and dressed up wearing blackface, she created a conundrum that is the stuff of a very difficult law school examination question. Two very important principles were potentially in conflict—the right of students to be free from racial harassment and the right of faculty members to exercise free speech. A law firm that the university hired to do an impartial investigation of the matter interviewed students and faculty members who were at the party and made a factual finding that at least some of the students felt compelled to attend their professor’s party and that they would potentially suffer negative consequences if they left early, despite being deeply offended and affronted by Professor Shurtz’s costume and its strong connotations of racism. The investigators made a factual finding that the behavior by Professor Shurtz constituted racial harassment under university policy V.11.02.

President Michael Schill

“. . . .As I consider the case of Professor Shurtz, I have to admit I am torn. I believe that freedom of speech is the core value of any university. When faculty members pursue their avocation—teaching students and conducting research—they must be able to say or write what they think without fear of retribution, even if their views are controversial, and even if their research and their views risk causing offense to others. Otherwise, advances in learning will be stunted. This freedom of speech includes the freedom to share political views, academic theories, good ideas, and even bad ones, too. It includes speech that offends others. Without academic freedom we could scarcely call the UO a university. . . .”

“But, when exactly does offending someone turn into proscribed harassment? Only a small number of legal commentators would say that faculty members should be immune from all harassment charges on academic freedom grounds. Instead, most of us recognize that speech rights are extremely important, but they also fall on a continuum. For whatever it is worth, I personally am fairly close to the end of the spectrum that believes speech should be maximally protected. But even I believe that there are cases when speech or conduct is of relatively minimal value compared to the great harm that it may do to our students—particularly to students who already struggle with isolation and lack of representation. For example, imagine a required class in which a professor repeatedly uses the ‘N’ word for no apparent reason except to elicit a reaction. Could African American students forced to sit through this class have a claim of harassment? I think so. Similarly, imagine a class in which a professor makes repeated, sexually explicit remarks to a student or students for no educational purpose. Free speech principles should not, in my view, prevent the university from taking appropriate actions to make sure these actions stop and do not recur in the future. . . .”

“The case against free speech”

 Brian Leiter, The Case Against Free Speech, Sydney Law Review (2016)

Abstract: Free societies employ a variety of institutions in which speech is heavily regulated on the basis of its content in order to promote other desirable ends, including discovery of the truth. I illustrate this with the case of courts and rules of evidence. Of course, three differences between courts and the polity at large might seem to counsel against extending that approach more widely.

Professor Brian Leiter

First, the courtroom has an official and somewhat reliable (as well as reviewable) arbiter of the epistemic merits, while the polity may not.

Second, no other non-epistemic values of speech are at stake in the courtroom, whereas they are in the polity.

Third, the courtroom’s jurisdiction is temporally limited in a way the polity’s may not be.

I argue that only the first of these — the ‘Problem of the Epistemic Arbiter’ as I call it — poses a serious worry about speech regulation outside select institutions like courts. I also argue for viewing ‘freedom of speech’ like ‘freedom of action’: speech, like everything else human beings do, can be benign or harmful, constructive or pernicious. Thus, the central question in free speech jurisprudence should really be how to regulate speech effectively — to minimise its very real harms, without undue cost to its positive values. In particular, I argue against autonomy-based defences of a robust free speech principle. I conclude that the central issue in free speech jurisprudence is not about speech, but about institutional competence.

I offer some reasons — from the Marxist ‘left’ and the public choice ‘right’ — for being sceptical that capitalist democracies have the requisite competence and make some suggestive remarks about how these defects might be remedied.

Dorf & Tarrow on Fake News & the First Amendment

Michael Dorf & Sidney Tarrow, Stings and Scams: ‘Fake News,’ the First Amendment, and the New Activist Journalism, SSRN (Jan. 26, 2017)

Abstract:  Constitutional law, technological innovations, and the rise of a cultural “right to know” have recently combined to yield “fake news,” as illustrated by an anti-abortion citizen-journalist sting operation that scammed Planned Parenthood. We find that the First Amendment, as construed by the Supreme Court, offers scant protection for activist journalists to go undercover to uncover wrongdoing, while providing substantial protection for the spread of falsehoods. By providing activists the means to reach sympathetic slices of the public, the emergence of social media has returned journalism to its roots in political activism, at the expense of purportedly objective and truthful investigative reporting. But the rise of “truthiness” — that is, falsehoods with the ring of truth, diffused through new forms of communication — threatens the integrity of the media. How to respond to these contradictions is a growing problem for advocates of free speech and liberal values more generally.

Forthcoming Books Read More

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University of Toronto Law Journal – Volume 67, Number 1, Winter 2017

ARTICLES

The Moral Unity Of Public Law
T.R.S. Allan

De-Ciphering Self-Help
Zoë Sinel

The Puzzle Of Intra-Familial Commodification
Ram Rivlin

BOOK REVIEW

False Security: The Radicalization of Canadian Anti-Terrorism by Craig Forcese and Kent Roach
Robert Diab

REVIEW ESSAY

How to end mass imprisonment: The legal and cultural strategies of Bryan Stevenson
Lisa Kerr

Full text of the University of Toronto Law Journal is available online at UTLJ Online, Project Muse, JSTOR, HeinOnline, Westlaw, Westlaw-CARSWELL, LexisNexis and Quicklaw.

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In Light of Recent Developments . . .

I thought I would repost my favorite quote from John Bingham:

When the vital principle of our government, the equality of the human race, shall be fully realized, when every fetter within our borders shall be broken, where the holy Temple of Freedom, the foundations of which our fathers laid amidst prayers, and sacrifices, and battles and tears, shall be complete, lifting its head-stone of beauty above the towers of watch and war, then conscious of duty performed, and a noble mission fulfilled, we may call to the down-trodden and oppressed of all lands–come.

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Vanderbilt Law Review, Volume 70, Number 1

The Vanderbilt Law Review is pleased to announce the publication of our January 2017 issue:

ARTICLES

Nicole Stelle Garnett, Sector Agnosticism and the Coming Transformation of Education Law, 70 Vand. L. Rev. 1 (2017)

Elizabeth Chamblee Burch, Monopolies in Multidistrict Litigation, 70 Vand. L. Rev. 67 (2017)

Jason Parkin, Aging Injunctions and the Legacy of Institutional Reform Litigation, 70 Vand. L. Rev. 167 (2017)

J. Maria Glover, A Regulatory Theory of Legal Claims, 70 Vand. L. Rev. 221 (2017)

NOTES

Brian P. Baxter, The Securities Black Market: Dark Pool Trading and the Need for a More Expansive Regulation ATS-N, 70 Vand. L. Rev. 311 (2017)

Stanley Onyeador, The Chancery Bank of Delaware: Appraisal Arbitrageurs Expose Need to Further Reform Defective Appraisal Statute, 70 Vand. L. Rev. 339 (2017)

Laura C. Williams, An Ocean Between Us: The Implications of Inconsistencies Between the Navigational Laws of Coastal Arctic Council Nations and the United  Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea for
Arctic Navigation
, 70 Vand. L. Rev. 379 (2017)

 

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Interstate Representation and the Electoral College

Yesterday I posted about the advantages and drawbacks of expanding the membership of the House of Representatives. Let’s now focus on some structural aspects of this issue and think about whether partisan politics stand in the way.

One problem that others have pointed out is that the relatively small size of the House violates the spirit of the “one-person, one-vote” principle. The reason is that the average population of a House district now exceeds the population of our smallest states. Each state must get at least one member (under Article One of the Constitution) even though some of them would get less than one if you only looked at the population figures.  Take a simple example.  California has 53 House members and Wyoming 1.  But California (as of the 2010 census) has 66 times more people than Wyoming. This means that Wyoming is overrepresented or California is underrepresented. This does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation (at least not so far) but expanding the size of the House is a way of eliminating this disparity.

Another consequence of the small size of the House is that the unequal representation of the states in the Electoral College is getting worse.  Wyoming, for example, is overrepresented in the Electoral College because it gets two votes because of its two senators.  But it’s even more overrepresented (or the large states are more underrepresented) because Wyoming is, in effect, getting three electoral votes instead of something like 2.75.  Is this distortion large?  No, but it might have changed the outcome of the 2000 election. (I need to crunch numbers on that.)

If you enlarge the House and reduce the average population of each district, these problems would diminish or go away.  Would one party benefit from this disproportionately?  I don’t think so.  The state that would see the biggest increase in House members would be California.  But Texas would also benefit. Moreover, the partisan effect would depend in part on how the new districts would be drawn, which would in turn depend on who controlled each state’s government at the time.

In short, I don’t think that this sort of change would far a partisan roadblock the way, say, getting rid of the Electoral College will.