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JACKSON v. NASSAU CTY. BD. OF SUPERVISORS

April 14, 1993

GEORGE JACKSON, WILLIAM DONALD STANFORD, ALONZO HOPKINS, KATHRYN ROGERS, FRANCINE GRIER, CARLOS E. MACKEY, ELAINE NESIN and DAVID FORD, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE NASSAU COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, JOSEPH N. MONDELLO, GREGORY P. PETERSON, BENJAMIN L. ZWIRN, BRUCE NYMAN, ANGELLO A. DELLIGATTI, DONALD P. DERIGGI, in their official capacities as members of the Nassau County Board of Supervisors, COUNTY OF NASSAU, NASSAU COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS, SINITA WALKER AND JOHN MATTHEWS, in their official capacities as commissioners of the Nassau County Board of Elections, Defendants.


SPATT


The opinion of the court was delivered by: ARTHUR D. SPATT

SPATT, District Judge.

 "Within a given constituency, there can be room for but a single constitutional rule -- one voter, one vote" ( Gray v. Sanders, 372 U.S. 368, 382, 9 L. Ed. 2d 821, 83 S. Ct. 801 [1963]). In his concurrence in Gray, Justice Potter Stewart reaffirmed the right of political participation which reaches back to The Federalist Papers and forward to as yet unknown possibilities of electronic politics in the 21st century. One can only imagine what Hamilton, Madison and Jefferson would have thought of modern "PCs" and "MACs" humming overtime on complicated apportionment formulas.

 Yet despite the growth of our population and the development of our complex technology, the fundamental character of the right to vote remains paramount, surfacing from time to time in issues raised about both the quantity and quality of representation. Whether these questions arise at the national or neighborhood level, as they do in the instant case, the fundamental principle of "one person, one vote" is unchanging. What does change is how Government carries out its mandate to retain the vitality of that basic precept.

 In the case before the Court, eight voter-residents of Nassau County, in bringing this constitutional challenge, ask the Court to re-examine the structure of the legislative body which governs the County in light of the Supreme Court's reaffirmance of the "one person, one vote" rule in New York City Bd. of Estimate v. Morris, 489 U.S. 688, 692-703, 109 S. Ct. 1433, 103 L. Ed. 2d 717 (1989).

 I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

 A. The Parties

 The eight plaintiffs are registered voters in the Towns of Hempstead and Glen Cove. Specifically, George Jackson and Elaine Nesin are White voters in the Town of Hempstead; William Donald Stanford, Alonzo Hopkins, Kathryn Rogers, Carlos E. Mackey and David Ford are Black voters in the Town of Hempstead; and Francine Grier is a Black voter in the Town of Glen Cove.

 The defendant Nassau County Board of Supervisors, established in 1937 pursuant to the New York State Constitution, Article IX and Local Law of Nassau County Article 1, is the general legislative body for Nassau County. At the time this suit was commenced, the individual defendants held the following positions: Joseph Mondello, Presiding Supervisor of the Town of Hempstead; Gregory P. Peterson, supervisor of the Town of Hempstead; Benjamin L. Zwirn, Supervisor of the Town of North Hempstead; Bruce Nyman, Supervisor of the City of Long Beach; Angelo A. Delligatti, Supervisor of the Town of Oyster Bay; and Donald P. DeRiggi, Mayor-Supervisor of the City of Glen Cove.

 The defendant Nassau County Board of Elections has the responsibility for conducting elections for the Board of Supervisors. Defendants Sinita Walker and John Matthews are Commissioners of the defendant Board of Elections and they are responsible for the conduct of the elections in Nassau County.

 Each individual defendant is sued in his or her official capacity.

 B. Jurisdiction

 Jurisdiction in this case is based upon 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 (federal question), 1343 (civil rights), 1357 (injury under federal laws), and 2201 (declaratory judgments). This action is brought under the aegis of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Fifteenth Amendment to the ...


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