Council Speaker Says She Would ‘Definitely Look At’ Gender Quota In City Government

In the Observer, Will Bredderman reports on NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s  suggestion that “she would “consider” proposing a law mandating that the local legislature contain a minimum number of women.

Days after rolling out a $20 million plan to recruit more young women into city agencies and civic life, the speaker appeared on the Brian Lehrer show to lament underrepresentation of her gender in government. Ms. Mark-Viverito is one of just 14 female members of the 51-member Council—down from 18 a decade ago—and one of five term-limited in 2017.

She was receptive to the notion of a quota, which a number of countries in Europe, Africa and Asia have implemented in their national parliaments.”

The 51 member city council was created in  the New York City Charter after the old Board of Estimate was found to be unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment equal protection clause. see Board of Estimate of the City of New York v. Morris 489 U.S. 688 (1989).

Speaker Mark-Viverito’s proposal faces a few challenges: the  14th Amendment and to a different extent, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (as amended). She will have to overcome prohibitions against ratios, bias and an assortment of other factors (including the impact of term limits and open districts at least once every eight years).

More to come.

Updated: I listened to the Speaker on the WNYC Brian Lehrer show to learn more about her proposal. While she is open to changing the city’s law to help elect more women, in the short term, she is more concerned about women being elected to the council after term limits pushes at least five current female members out of office next year. You can listen to her interview with Brian Lehrer here:





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