MADISON — It took the threat of a lawsuit, but the Madison Common Council has amended a city ordinance to remove unconditional racial quotas from a controversial Police Civilian Oversight Board.
“We should never stand idly by while our elected officials engage in blatant race discrimination, as Madison did in this case,” said Dan Lennington, deputy counsel for the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty.
WILL represents Madison resident, David Blaska, who applied for the board but is ineligible for nine of the eleven seats because of his race.
The city of Madison enacted the race-centric ordinance in September 2020. It requires four members of the Police Civilian Oversight Board to belong to the following specific racial groups: “African American,” “Asian,” “Latinx,” and “Native American.” The Madison Common Council then added another racial quota requiring “at least 50 percent Black members.”
The board was set up to oversee the new Office of the Independent Police Monitor, which would allow the usual leftist suspects to have power over and investigate the Madison Police Department. Created in the wake of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations of 2020, the board has been riddled with in-fighting and missteps.
Among its many errors that the city has finally begrudgingly admitted is the fact that racial quotas and classifications — enshrined in Madison law and the official policy of the city — “are unconstitutional, offensive, and repugnant to basic American values,” WILL states in a press release.
“The city has not identified a compelling government interest that would justify racial quotas. The Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection requires governments – at all levels – to treat citizens as individuals, not members of a group or racial class,” the Milwaukee civil rights law firm added.
WILL filed a Notice of Claim in January 2021, warning Madison that the racial quotas in the oversight board are unconstitutional and would result in a lawsuit without a policy change.
When the city took no action, WILL filed a federal lawsuit in the Western District of Wisconsin in June 2021. The law firm said it looks forward to reaching a settlement agreement now that Madison has amended the ordinance.
“Although we are pleased they have removed their racial quota, WILL remains ready and willing to challenge race discrimination wherever it rears its ugly head,” Lennington said.