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 2021, 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.
When the City took no action, WILL filed a federal lawsuit
in the Western District of Wisconsin against the City of Madison in June 2021. WILL looks forward to reaching a settlement agreement now that Madison has amended the ordinance.