City of Asheville sued for disqualifying individuals from public service because of their race
September 26, 2023
Asheville, NC; September 26, 2023: Today, a group of Asheville residents filed an updated challenge to the racial criteria used to fill positions on the Human Relations Commission of Asheville (HRCA) as violating the Constitution’s equal protection guarantee.
Established in 2018, HRCA aims to promote human relations throughout the city; however, some candidates have been rejected because they are the wrong race.
“The opportunity to serve your local community should not depend on your race,” said Andrew Quinio, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “Asheville’s candidates for public service should be treated as individuals, instead of mere members of arbitrary racial groups. Asheville needs to stop making assumptions about people’s experiences and qualifications based on arbitrary and offensive racial classifications.”
One candidate, John Miall, is a lifelong resident of Asheville and spent nearly 30 years working for the City of Asheville, including as its Director of Risk Management for several of those years. He secured many historic firsts for the city’s health and benefits plans, and although John is now retired, his passion for public service has never diminished. He felt his decades of municipal experience and continued service to his community would be a natural fit for the HRCA. Nevertheless, when he applied for one of the vacant seats, Asheville passed on his application because of his race and readvertised the open positions.
With free representation from Pacific Legal Foundation, John and four other candidates (Robyn Hite, David Shaw, Willa Grant, and Danie Johnson) whose applications were passed over due to race are fighting back. Their victory would ensure that the best-qualified candidates can compete equally for any city advisory board, regardless of race.
The case is Miall, et al. v. Asheville, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.
Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 17 wins of 19 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.