In 1989, Board of Estimate of City of New York v. Morris unanimously declared New York City’s Board of Estimate Unconstitutional, as it violated the “one man, one vote” principle derived form 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection standard.
The Board of Estimate made almost all municipal decisions, and was occupied by eight ex oficio members:
- The Mayor of New York City
- The New York City Comptroller
- The President of the New York City Council
- The Borough President of the Bronx
- The Borough President of Brooklyn
- The Borough President of Manhattan
- The Borough President of Queens
- The Borough President of Staten Island
The first three were elected in a city-wide election, and had 2 votes on the Board, while the Borough Presidents, elected by residents of their respective Borough’s, each held one vote on the Board.
The Supreme Court ruled the Board Unconstitutional because residents of Queens, the least populous Borough, had the same representation as the members of the most populous Borough, Brooklyn.
The problem, with this unanimous decision, is that this allegation simply isn’t true. As the three officers who held the most power (controlling 6 out of the 11 votes) were elected City-Wide. Therefore, the members of the more populous Borough, Brooklyn, would have more representation.
I don’t claim to smarter than the Supreme Court, so, what am I missing?