Blaska v. City of Madison

Case Name: Blaska v. City of Madison

Type of Case: Equality Under the Law

Court: Western District of Wisconsin

Case Number: 

Filed On: June 30, 2021

Current Status: 

Press Releases

WILL WARNS CITY OF MADISON OF LAWSUIT OVER UNCONSTITUTIONAL RACIAL DISCRIMINATION

January 13, 2021 | WILL filed a Notice of Claim, Wednesday, putting the City of Madison on notice that an ordinance and resolution creating the new Police Civilian Oversight Board imposes unconstitutional racial quotas.

WILL SUES CITY OF MADISON FOR UNCONSTITUTIONAL RACE DISCRIMINATION

June 30, 2021 | WILL filed a federal lawsuit in the Western District of Wisconsin against the City of Madison after the City established a Police Civilian Oversight Board that imposes unconstitutional racial quotas. WILL represents David Blaska, a Madison resident who applied for the Board, but who is ineligible for nine of the eleven seats because he is white.

The Lawsuit: WILL filed a federal lawsuit in the Western District of Wisconsin against the City of Madison after the City established a Police Civilian Oversight Board that imposes unconstitutional racial quotas. WILL represents David Blaska, a Madison resident who applied for the Board, but who is ineligible for nine of the eleven seats because he is white. Madison’s system of racial quotas is a clear violation of the Constitution’s ban on racial discrimination. WILL is seeking an injunction requiring the City to reconstitute the board, as well as punitive damages.

Background: In September 2020, the City of Madison enacted an ordinance, Madison General Ordinance § 5.20, that 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% Black members.”

Racial quotas and classifications — enshrined in this City law and the official policy of the City—are unconstitutional, offensive, and repugnant to basic American values. The City of Madison 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.

WILL filed a Notice of Claim in January, warning the City of Madison that the racial quotas in the Police Civilian Oversight Board are unconstitutional and would result in a lawsuit without a policy change.

WILL is asking the Court for a declaration that the racial quotas for the Police Civilian Oversight Board and the policy requiring “50% Black members,” are unconstitutional. WILL is also seeking an injunction requiring the City to reconstitute the board, as well as punitive damages.

Rick Esenberg

Rick Esenberg

President and General Counsel

rick@will-law.org

Dan Lennington

Dan Lennington

Deputy Counsel

dan@will-law.org

CASE DOCUMENTS