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California Mandate Requiring Women on Corporate Boards Ruled Unconstitutional

A California superior court has ruled that a state law mandating the inclusion of women on corporate boards was unconstitutional. The May 13 decision by Superior Court Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis noted the law, requiring companies to have up to three female directors, violated the state constitution’s equal protections clause. 

Passed in 2018 by then-governor Jerry Brown to “send a message” during the MeToo era, the official state legislative analysis concluded the law would be difficult to defend against a court challenge. Soon thereafter, Governor Newsom signed a similar bill requiring the inclusion of up to three members of “underrepresented communities” on corporate boards. 

Both laws were immediately challenged upon their passing by D.C. based conservative activist group Judicial Watch, which just last month secured legal victory when another California judge overturned the state law overturning the “underrepresented communities” board mandate. 

“The Court eviscerated California’s unconstitutional gender quota mandate. This is the second California court decision finding that quotas for corporate boards are unconstitutional. The radical Left’s unprecedented attacks on anti-discrimination law has suffered another stinging defeat,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Thankfully, California courts have upheld the core American value of equal protection under the law.

These two cases could set national precedent as other states and bodies consider passing similar rules. The Securities and Exchange Commission, for example, approved a rule by the Nasdaq stock exchange requiring companies to disclose the ethnic and gender demographics of their boards, have at least two “diverse” members, or otherwise “explain” why they do not; companies failing to provide justification for their lack of “diversity” on their boards would face delisting from the exchange. Seventeen states are currently signed on to a lawsuit challenging the rule, which is currently under review by Fifth Circuit federal judges. 

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