One senator per county?

To the editor:

While the proposal you recently highlighted has merit, it would probably face rough waters constitutionally.

I am no expert on the topic, but as I understand it, during the civil rights era there was a nationwide debate known as the “one man, one vote” controversy, which ended with the U.S. Supreme Court striking down the “little federal” system whereby many state senates gave equal representation to every county, regardless of population. The background was that the little federal system was seen by many as a way for rural (white, conservative) areas to keep effective control of state government, even after the state had become mostly urban. The court concluded that the U.S. Constitution, although it made the U.S. Senate an “aristocratic” check on democracy at the federal level, required that state governments be more purely democratic in nature. I suspect that that legal precedent would be upheld today.

Given that both houses must be population-based, and that state legislatures don’t get to determine too many earth-shaking issues anyway, there probably is a good case to be made for going unicameral, a la Nebraska.

Joseph Kimpflen

Tupper Lake