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Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty sues Madison for racial discrimination

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty filed suit against the city of Madison Wednesday morning, alleging racial discrimination against a white Madison resident.

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According to a news release from WILL, David Blaska applied to be a member of the new Police Civilian Oversight Board. Blaska, who is white, did not get nominated for the council seat.

WILL's suit claims this is due to "racial quotas," referring to an ordinance the city passed shortly after voting to create the board. The ordinance requires that at least one member of the board be Black, Asian, Latinx, Native American and a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

The Madison Common Council later stipulated that 50 percent of the council should be Black.

“The City of Madison was warned that imposing racial quotas is unconstitutional. The return of race classifications and quotas is a troubling and dangerous step backwards,” WILL president Rick Esenberg said in a statement.

WILL filed a notice of claim in January, saying a lawsuit was imminent if the common council did not reverse the policies.

City of Madison attorney Mike Haas responded to the lawsuit Tuesday night, saying in a statement that the diversity requirements are in place to ensure fair policing across all Madison communities.

"WILL cannot dispute that for decades communities of color have had more police contact and higher rates of incarceration than anyone else in our society. This is not a case related to medical school admissions or preferential governmental contracting. It’s about ensuring safe, fair, and humane policing for everyone our community – a compelling governmental interest if ever there was one," Haas said in the statement.

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway provided a statement as well, firing back at WILL's recent track record of lawsuits regarding the state's coronavirus response and the 2020 election.

"WILL is developing quite a track record of cases. 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," Rhodes-Conway said in the statement.