Board of Estimate of City of New York v. Morris

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Board of Estimate of City of New York v. Morris
Seal of the United States Supreme Court
Argued December 7, 1988
Decided March 22, 1989
Full case name Board of Estimate of City of New York, et al. v. Morris, et al.
Citations 489 U.S. 688 (more)
109 S. Ct. 1433; 103 L. Ed. 2d 717
The Board of Estimate's structure is inconsistent with the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because, although the boroughs have widely disparate populations, each has equal representation on the board.
Court membership
Chief Justice
William Rehnquist
Associate Justices
William J. Brennan Jr. · Byron White
Thurgood Marshall · Harry Blackmun
John P. Stevens · Sandra Day O'Connor
Antonin Scalia · Anthony Kennedy
Case opinions
Majority White, joined by Rehnquist, Marshall, O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy
Concurrence Brennan, joined by Stevens
Concurrence Blackmun
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend XIV

Board of Estimate of City of New York v. Morris, 489 U.S. 688 (1989), was a case argued before the United States Supreme Court regarding the structure of the New York City Board of Estimate.


Under the charter of the City of Greater New York established in 1898, the Board of Estimate was responsible for budget and land-use decisions for the city. It was composed of eight ex officio members: the Mayor of New York City, the New York City Comptroller and the President of the New York City Council, each of whom was elected citywide and had two votes, and the five Borough presidents, each having one vote.[1]

Opinion of the Court

The court unanimously declared the New York City Board of Estimate unconstitutional on the grounds that the city's most populous borough (Brooklyn) had no greater effective representation on the board than the city's least populous borough (Staten Island), in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause pursuant to the Court's 1964 "one man, one vote" decision (Reynolds v. Sims).[2] The Board was disestablished.

The case was argued on December 7, 1988, and decided on March 22, 1989. Justice Byron White delivered the Court's opinion.

See also


  1. ^ Being Borough President Archived May 9, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, Gotham Gazette, July 18, 2005
  2. ^ Cornell Law School Supreme Court Collection: Board of Estimate of City of New York v. Morris, accessed June 12, 2006.

Further reading

  • Poindexter, Georgette C. (1996). "Legal Empowerment of the Neighbourhood". Urban Studies. 33 (10): 1821–1829. doi:10.1080/0042098966394.
  • Rosati, A. D. (1990). "One Person, One Vote: Is it Time for a New Constitutional Principle?". New York Law School Journal of Human Rights. 8: 523. ISSN 1046-4328.

External links

  • Text of Board of Estimate of City of New York v. Morris, 489 U.S. 688 (1989) is available from:  Cornell  Justia  Library of Congress  Oyez (oral argument audio) 
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