WILL Warns City of Madison of Lawsuit Over Unconstitutional Racial Discrimination

Notice of Claim asserts racial quotas violate the law, Constitution

The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (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 represents seven Madison residents challenging Madison’s decision to require nine members of the eleven-member Police Civilian Oversight Board to belong to specific racial groups – a clear violation of the Constitution’s ban on racial discrimination.

The Quote: WILL President and General Counsel, Rick Esenberg, said, “While it may represent the current zeitgeist, the City of Madison’s decision to insert racial quotas and classifications into law violates the Constitution’s ban on racial discrimination and equal protection before the law. The City of Madison may think they are advancing racial progress, but this policy is, in effect, cloaking deeply regressive policies of racial discrimination.”

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.”


While these measures were, presumably, taken in the interest of racial justice, their effect is quite the opposite. Racial quotas and classifications — enshrined in City law and the official policy of the City—are unconstitutional, offensive, and repugnant to basic American values.


WILL’s Notice of Claim reads, in part:

“Neither the City, the Mayor, nor the Common Council has identified any compelling governmental interests that would justify discriminating against Board applicants and members based on their race. Moreover, no Madison official has explained how this imposition of racial quotas is narrowly tailored or why the City’s interests could not be served by a race-neutral policy.”


In this case, WILL’s Notice of Claim starts a 120-day timeline before a lawsuit against the City can commence.

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