Congressional district

Congressional district

A congressional district is “a geographical division of a state from which one member of the House of Representatives is elected.”[1]

Congressional Districts are made up of three main components, a representative, constituents, and the specific land area that both the representative and the constituents live in.


Representatives in the U.S. Government: How it works

“Each congressional district elects one Representative. A representative is also referred to as a congressman or congresswoman; each representative is elected to a two-year term serving the people of a specific congressional district. Among other duties, representatives introduce bills and resolutions, offer amendments and serve on committees. The number of representatives with full voting rights is 435, a number set by Public Law 62-5 on August 8, 1911, and in effect since 1913. The number of representatives per state is proportionate to population.

Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution provides for both the minimum and maximum sizes for the House of Representatives. Currently, there are five delegates representing the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. A resident commissioner represents Puerto Rico. The delegates and resident commissioner possess the same powers as other members of the House, except that they may not vote when the House is meeting as the House of Representatives. To be elected, a representative must be at least 25 years old, a United States citizen for at least seven years and an inhabitant of the state he or she represents.”[2]

Congressional Districts and their Main Ingredient: Constituents

“A Constituent is a resident of a legislator’s district. The district itself is sometimes referred to as the Congressional member’s constituency.”[3]

Congressional Districts are made up of constituents. Every person is a “constituent” of a single member of the House of Representatives no matter where they live within the United States. An individual doesn’t have to be registered to vote to be considered a constituent though. Everyone is represented even if they didn’t participate in an election, they just don’t get to elect who they’re represented by.

“Legislators must act in the capacity of a go-between in the relationship of the average citizen with his national government. Much of a legislator’s day must be spent in answering letters, running errands, showing the sights to visitors, and similar activities on behalf of his constituents.”[4]

Representation of Constituents

Representation is a difficult task that members of Congress must face. Different styles of representation of constituents have been considered by members of congress as the best way to represent their constituents. It’s rare that a member of congress wouldn’t care about his/her constituents because member of congress generally care a great deal about reelection. So the way they represent their constituents is important to them.

“Sometimes representation requires a balancing act. If some representatives favor more defense spending but suspect their constituents do not, what are they to do? The English politician and philosopher Edmund Burke favored the concept of legislators as trustees, using their best judgment to make policy in the interests of the people. Others prefer the concept of representatives as instructed delegates, mirroring the preferences of their constituents. Actually, most members of Congress are politicos, adopting both trustee and instructed delegate roles as they strive to be both representatives and policy makers. “[5].

Changes in Congressional Districts

Because Congressional Districts change in population over time, people leaving a district and moving to a new one, or growth in one over the others causes for congress to go through a process called reapportionment.

“Reapportionment is the process of reallocating seats in the House of Representatives every 10 years on the basis of the results of the census.”[6]

“Districts are generally drawn up by the partisan majorities in state legislatures in such a ways to favor their party’s candidates in congressional elections (gerrymandering). For many years, Congress provided that state legislatures draw up congressional districts as “compact and contiguous” areas, substantially equal in population; but since 1929, Congress has not specified criteria for redistricting. As a result of the Supreme Court’s 1964 decision in Wesberry v. Sanders, 376 U.S. 1, that congressional districts must be based on substantial equality of population, Congress has reconsidered the problem of establishing standards.”[7] 2010 Census Data

United States

Main article: List of United States congressional districts.

There are 435 congressional districts in the United States House of Representatives, with each one representing approximately 600,000 people. The Census Bureau within the United States Department of Commerce conducts a decennial census whose figures are used to determine the number of congressional districts within each state.

See also


  1. ^ (Plano and Greenberg, 133)
  2. ^ (
  3. ^ (Plano and Greenberg, 134)
  4. ^ (Plano and Greenberg, 134)
  5. ^ (Edwards, Wattenberg, and Lineberry, 381)
  6. ^ (Edwards, Wattenberg, and Lineberry, 733)
  7. ^ (Plano and Greenberg, 133)

Edwards III, George C., Wattenberg,Martin P., and Lineberry, Robert L.Government In America; People, Politics, and Policy, Eleventh Edition. 2004. Pearson Education, Inc. Pages 381,733

Plano, Jack C., and Greenberg, Milton. The American Political Dictionary; Second Edition 1967. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston Inc. Pages 133-134

U.S. House of Representatives. What is a Representative? September 2011}}</ref>

U.S. Census Bureau. Apportionment Data. Accessed September 30, 2011

U.S. Government. Constitution of the United States. September 30, 2011

U.S. Supreme Court. Wesberry V. Sanders. September 30, 2011

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Congressional district — District Dis trict, n. [LL. districtus district, fr. L. districtus, p. p. of distringere: cf. F. district. See {Distrain}.] 1. (Feudal Law) The territory within which the lord has the power of coercing and punishing. [1913 Webster] 2. A division… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Congressional District — Congressional Con*gres sion*al, a. Of or pertaining to a congress, especially, to the Congress of the United States; as, congressional debates. [1913 Webster] Congressional and official labor. E. Everett. [1913 Webster] {Congressional District},… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • congressional district — congressional dis·trict n: a territorial division of a state from which a member of the U.S. House of Representatives is elected Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996 …   Law dictionary

  • Congressional district — ☆ Congressional district n. any of the districts into which a state is divided for electing congressmen: each district elects a member of the House of Representatives …   English World dictionary

  • congressional district — noun a territorial division of a state; entitled to elect one member to the United States House of Representatives • Hypernyms: ↑district, ↑territory, ↑territorial dominion, ↑dominion • Part Holonyms: ↑American state * * * noun …   Useful english dictionary

  • congressional district — Geographical district of state which may send (vote) a representative to U.S. Congress + congressional district A geographical unit of a State from which one member of the House of Representatives is elected …   Black's law dictionary

  • congressional district — Geographical district of state which may send (vote) a representative to U.S. Congress + congressional district A geographical unit of a State from which one member of the House of Representatives is elected …   Black's law dictionary

  • congressional district — Synonyms and related words: Kreis, archbishopric, archdiocese, arrondissement, bailiwick, bishopric, borough, canton, city, close borough, commune, constablewick, county, departement, diocese, district, duchy, election district, electoral… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • Congressional district — U.S. Govt. one of a fixed number of districts into which a state is divided, each district electing one member to the national House of Representatives. Cf. assembly district, Senatorial district. [1805 15, Amer.] * * * …   Universalium

  • congressional district — noun Date: 1812 a territorial division of a state from which a member of the United States House of Representatives is elected …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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