Conservative law firm files lawsuit against Madison’s Police Civilian Oversight Board
MADISON, Wis. — A conservative law firm is suing the City of Madison over its Police Civilian Oversight Board, saying the board’s racial diversity quotas are unconstitutional.
In September 2020, the Madison Common Council voted to create a civilian oversight board responsible for conducting police assessments and making recommendations about police use-of-force protocols. Four of the 11 members were required to belong to the following racial groups: African-American, Asian, Latinx and Native American. The Common Council also voted to require 50% of the board’s members be Black.
The Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty is representing Madison resident David Blaska who said he was rejected from serving on the board because he is white.
The law firm is filing the federal lawsuit on Wednesday in the Western District of Wisconsin, just over six months after filing a Notice of Claim against the city, warning a lawsuit would come if it didn’t change its policy requiring the oversight board to meet certain racial diversity requirements.
“The City of Madison was warned that imposing racial quotas is unconstitutional,” WILL President and General Counsel Rick Esenberg, said. “The return of race classifications and quotas is a troubling and dangerous step backwards.”
Madison City Attorney Michael Haas disagreed.
The lawsuit asks that the racial diversity quotas be ruled unconstitutional and that the board be reformed without any diversity requirements.
“WILL is developing quite a track record of cases,” Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said. “They are against common-sense public health measures, like shutting schools when a highly contagious disease hits; they want to rip out our ballot drop boxes because they don’t like the candidates our voters are casting their ballots for; they want tear down the Civilian Oversight Board because they don’t recognize the expertise that over-policed communities bring to a conversation about over-policing.”
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