Reapportionment Act of 1929

The Reapportionment Act of 1929 (ch. 28, 46 Stat. 21, 2 U.S.C. § 2a), also known as the Permanent Apportionment Act of 1929, is a combined census and apportionment bill enacted on June 18, 1929, that establishes a permanent method for apportioning a constant 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives according to each census.

Reapportionment Act of 1929
Long titleAn Act To provide for the fifteenth and subsequent decennial censuses and to provide for apportionment of Representatives in Congress.
Enacted bythe 71st United States Congress
EffectiveJune 18, 1929
Public lawPub.L. 71–13
Statutes at Large46 Stat. 21 through 46 Stat. 27 (7 pages)
Legislative history

This reapportionment was preceded by the Apportionment Act of 1911 and took effect after the 1932 election meaning that the House was never reapportioned as a result of the 1920 United States Census. Representation in the lower chamber remained frozen for twenty years.[1]

However, unlike earlier Apportionment Acts, the 1929 Act neither repealed nor restated the requirements of the previous apportionment acts that congressional districts be contiguous, compact, and equally populated. It was not clear whether these requirements were still in effect until in 1932 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Wood v. Broom (1932)[2] that the provisions of each apportionment act affected only the apportionment for which they were written. Thus the size and population requirements, last stated in the Apportionment Act of 1911, expired with the enactment of the 1929 Act. The 1929 Act gave little direction concerning congressional redistricting. It merely established a system in which House seats would be reallocated to states which have shifts in population. The lack of recommendations concerning districts had several significant effects. The Reapportionment Act of 1929 allowed states to draw districts of varying size and shape. It also allowed states to abandon districts altogether and elect at least some representatives at large, which several states chose to do, including New York, Illinois, Washington, Hawaii, and New Mexico. For example, in the 88th Congress (in the early 1960s) 22 of the 435 representatives were elected at-large. This would continue until Congress passed the Uniform Congressional District Act which reinforced the single-member district requirement.

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