CONGRESSIONAL RECORD — SENATE
February 19, 1965
FAIR LEGISLATIVE APPORTIONMENT:
RESTORING A BASIC PRINCIPLE OF THE CONSTITUTION
Mr. DOUGLAS. Mr. President, the fight to obtain fair representation
in the State legislatures is at a crucial stage this year in many States of the Union. In some of the States, a victory for
representative government is at hand; in others, the malapportionment is so great that those working for fair representation are vastly overpowered. Nevertheless, even in these States, those who favor government
by the people, under equal citizenship, are putting up a courageous battle, which should inspire others.
Georgia is such a State.
There has come to my attention a recent address by State Senator James P. Wesberry, Jr.,
of Atlanta, one of the vigorous leaders of the fair apportionment fight in Georgia. His pleas for the restoration of the equal
representation of people in State legislatures are worthy of the attention of Congress and of State legislators across the
country. I ask unanimous consent that his address, entitled “We, the Factors Other Than People,” as delivered
by Senator Wesberry to the Dekalb Democratic Forum on February 16, 1965, be printed in the Record.
There being no objection,
the address was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
We, the Factors Other Than People
(Delivered by Senator James P. Wesberry. Jr.,
of Atlanta at the Dekalb Democratic Forum, at Emory
University, Atlanta, Georgia on February16, 1965)
Every 15 minutes a unique
ritual occurs in the Georgia House of Representatives this year. The clerk reads a resolution which usually does little less
than call for the abolition of the U.S. Constitution and the restoration
of the Articles of the Confederacy. Then some red faced member makes a fiery speech, most of which is unintelligible to one
whose native language is English, but which unmistakably indicates that the U.S. Supreme Court has upon its own initiative
overhauled the Constitution of the United States from top to bottom. The speaker calls on his fellows to “restore the
Constitution." They do—by clapping, yelling, turning redder than the speaker and voting for the resolution which barely
passes by a vote of about 194 to 8 (not counting rebel yells).
orgy, which would bring a glow of anticipation to the eye of any psychiatrist, is not common only to Georgia. It is called
a reapportionment session and it may be found going on in form similar to the foregoing
in the legislative chambers of most of the States of what we hopefully continue to call the Union. Any resemblance between
a “reapportionment session" and a Watusi ritual can be easily
by noting that in the former the men in the pot are all dressed in long black robes. Also the man selling “Earl Warren
dolls" and hat pins looks suspiciously like former Gov. Marvin Griffin's purchasing
agent. Identification becomes complete when he puts 10 percent of the purchaser's change in a box labeled “Cheney."
To one unschooled in modern legislative processes the proceedings of the Georgia House might appear
unorderly, unorthodox, and unrelated to the making of laws for the State of Georgia. Enlightenment is gained by the following
explanation: The Georgia House members are representing factors other than people.
should fully explain their actions.
After all shouldn’t
an elected official reflect the views of his constituents? If his constituency consists primarily of factors other than people,
why then should he give regard to old-fashioned human thinking? Indeed why shouldn’t man who represents factors other
than people act in a nonhuman manner. So they do.
nonpeople factor has recently been exposed In House Resolutions 9, 47, and 135 and Senate Resolution 14 in the Georgia General
Assembly, in which the authors seek to insert the nonpeople factor Into the Constitution of the United States. Perhaps we
should now forgive all our previous legislatures for the poor laws they passed. They weren’t really representing people.
Prior to reapportionment of the senate, senators were actually representing 78.6 percent of factors other than people. The
house, right up to the present day, contains 148 members out of Its 205 membership who represent factors other than people.
Stated as a percentage. 77.5 percent of the house members represent factors other than people.
Now that we people have had the nonpeople factor explained to us fully we can understand the political history of the
State of Georgia. Now we can understand the logic of the county-unit system, the white primary, the speed trap, the fee system. Now we can understand why Georgia government was for so many years run by political
hacks, cronies, and their relatives. We now can see how it is possible for the State to enter into long-term leases for nonexistent
property which neither begin nor end within some of our lifetimes. We can understand the awarding of purchases without bids,
the kickbacks, the graft. In short the wholesale disregard of the people.
still wonder just what factors other than people are but even if we never get an explanation the exposure of the nonpeople
factor in State government certainly answers a lot of questions we have been asking for some time. We can even see that until
1962 the selection of our Governor was prescribed by the nonpeople factor thus explaining the actions of many of our former
Governors selected by the county-unit system.
Now, who has rewritten the Constitution
of the United States?
The original Constitution of the United States started out
“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility,
provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,
do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
was no mention here of “factors other than people"—and no thought was given it by the Framers of the Constitution.
When the Union was formed only four States (Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut, and
Rhode Island) utilized apportionment plans based on anything other than population and their plans deviated little from truly
representative apportionment. The fact is that the original legislative apportionment of the Thirteen Original States makes
our present-day apportionment look pitiful by comparison.
The same Congress which adopted, ratified, and began to function under the U.S. Constitution passed the Northwest Ordinance
in 1789. It guaranteed the inhabitants of the Northwest Territory, soon to become States, proportionate representation in
their future legislatures. A similar pattern prevailed in the admission of all States except Vermont and Nevada from 1789
to 1889. Thus population equity was the main criterion for apportionment in 30 of the 36 States during the first century of
our Nation's existence.
No one ever even mentioned “factors other than people."
In the early years Thomas Jefferson criticized what today would be a minor malapportionment in his
own beloved Virginia legislature and stated “equal representation is so fundamental a principle in a true republic that no prejudices can justify its violation."
Georgia constitution says that “All government, of right, originates with the people." No "nonpeople factor" can be
found in it. Georgia’s first legislature was unicameral and was apportioned based upon population. Today's Supreme Court
would have upheld it. Georgia history rings with the voices of its great statesmen who advocated popular representation. In
1839 at the age of 27, Alexander H. Stephens proposed a plan which would have meant the abandonment of the old 3-2-1 formula
for county unit representation in the Georgia house. The plan stood in spite of Stephens—in spite of the great Robert
Toombs—until stricken down by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of June 15,1964. The minor malapportionment of Stephens’
and Toombs’ day was to become major as the people moved from the farms to the cities.
"Factors other than people" began to creep Into the Constitution of the United States in the latter part of the 19th
century. No one can actually say when the Constitution was revised to include "factors other than people" but in general this quietly occurred between 1890 and 1960. This perversion of our Constitution did not come
about through formal amendment—nor through Judicial or legislative fiat. It came about through the failure of the legislatures
to recognize the large-scale and rapid urbanization of the country by reapportioning themselves, their failure to act was
contrary, in many cases, to their own constitutions requiring reapportionment. It was successful because the courts bent over
backward to avoid entering the "political thicket."
Thus was the Constitution of the United States changed—thus were the principles of the Founding Fathers altered—not
by the courts but by the inaction of the legislatures—and thus was representation in our great country transferred from
the people to “factors other than people”—the great unwritten amendment to our Constitution.
When the Supreme Court ruled on March, 26, 1962, and again on June 15. 1964, that "factors other
than people" should be stricken from our Constitution, they were not changing the Constitution of 1789—it was they who were restoring it. And the 70 percent of Americans living in urban areas—the 12,000
people who leave rural areas each day to live in our urban areas—should be everlastingly grateful that the U.S. Supreme
Court had the courage, the wisdom and the will to stand up against the petty politicians, against the unrepresentative legislatures throughout this country and to declare in decisions that will ring throughout
the pages of history that “factors other than people" have no place In the land of the free and the home of the brave—that “one man" deserves “one vote" and that in America he will get it.