Judicial Watch sues California over attempt to dictate gender makeup of corporate boards

By Jon Dougherty

(NationalSentinel) Legal watchdog group Judicial Watch has filed suit against California on behalf of three taxpayers over the state’s effort to dictate the gender makeup of corporate boards, arguing that lawmakers have no authority to make such determinations for a private business.

The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court last week, seeks to halt implementation of Senate Bill 826, which requires publicly held corporations headquartered in the state to have at least one director “who self-identifies her gender as a woman.” Depending on the size of the board, the law would mandate as many as three self-identifying women.

The suit, Robin Crest et al v. Alex Padilla, claims that mandate would be unconstitutional.

“There are currently 761 publicly-traded corporations headquartered in California, the vast majority of which are subject to the legislation’s provisions. In a July 1, 2019, report, the secretary of state identified 537 corporations that fall short of the mandate,” Judicial Watch noted, as reported by WorldNetDaily.

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In addition to the suit, an analysis on behalf of the California Legislature also found that the law would create a “quota-like system.”

That report explained the bill, if enacted into law, would likely be challenged on equal protection grounds, WND noted.

“The use of a quota-like system, as proposed by this bill, to remedy past discrimination and differences in opportunity may be difficult to defend,” the report said.

However, Then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed it anyway, claiming that recent events “in Washington, D.C. – and beyond – make it crystal clear that many are not getting the message.”

The lawsuit explains the requirement is only for someone who “self-identifies” as female, meaning a man who says he is a woman would qualify.

The Judicial Watch suit seeks to block implementation of the law.

“SB 826 is illegal under the California Constitution. The legislation’s quota system for female representation on corporate boards employs express gender classifications. As a result, SB 826 is immediately suspect and presumptively invalid and triggers strict scrutiny review,” the complaint says.

The complaint also notes that California is following a trend in many European countries regarding gender quotas.

“California’s gender quota law is brazenly unconstitutional,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said. “Even Gov. Brown, in signing the law, worried that it is unconstitutional. Judicial Watch’s California taxpayer clients are stepping up to make sure that California’s Constitution, which prohibits sex discrimination, is upheld.”

Judicial Watch noted that when Norway adopted corporate board gender quotas, the result was “younger and less experienced boards – and deterioration in operating performance, consistent with less capable boards.”

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