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Relative Difference and the Dean Method: A Comment on “Getting the Math Right”

PDF · Mark Bell · Mar-30-2009 · 62 Vand. L. Rev. En Banc 1 (2009)

This Response critiques a recent Article in the Vanderbilt Law Review, Getting the Math Right: Why California Has Too Many Seats in the House of Representatives, by Professor Paul H. Edelman, on the doctrine of “one person one vote” as applied to congressional apportionment. Professor Edelman discusses the background of “one person one vote” in the congressional apportionment context and asserts that because of a mathematical flaw, the Supreme Court in U.S. Department of Commerce v. Montana incorrectly permitted a method of congressional apportionment that is not in accordance with “one person one vote.” Professor Edelman’s mathematical assertion is fundamentally correct; the Court did not use the correct denominator in its calculations. However, this Response argues that even if the Court had been presented with the correct mathematical calculations, the Court should not have been persuaded. This Response also argues that there should be a distinction between relative deviation—used in districting—and relative difference—used in apportionment—and proposes a method for calculating relative difference that differs from the ones that Professor Edelman and the Court proposed.

Responding to Getting the Math Right: Why California Has Too Many Seats in the House of Representatives by Paul H. Edelman



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