We won a significant victory last week in the California Superior Court when it declared that the state’s racial, ethnic, and LGBT quota for corporate boards of California-based corporations violates the California Constitution.
This week the court released its full opinion. It found that only in “very particular cases should discrimination be remedied by more discrimination.”
The ruling and opinion come in the case (Robin Crest, et al. v. Alex Padilla, in his official capacity as Secretary of State of the State of California (No.20STCV37513)) granting our motion for summary judgment in our lawsuit. We sued on behalf of taxpayers who are asking the court to declare the quota scheme unconstitutional and seeking to enjoin its enforcement.
This historic California court decision declared unconstitutional one of the most blatant and significant attacks in the modern era on constitutional prohibitions against discrimination. In its ruling today, the court upheld the core American value of equal protection under the law. Judicial Watch’s taxpayer clients are heroes for standing up for civil rights against the Left’s pernicious efforts to undo anti-discrimination protections.
We filed this lawsuit on October 2, 2020, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles, on behalf of three California taxpayers (Robin Crest, Earl De Vries and Judy DeVries) to prevent California from enforcing Assembly Bill 979 (AB 979). The law requires that boards of directors of California-based, publicly held domestic or foreign corporations satisfy a racial, ethnic, and LGBT quota by the end of the 2021 calendar year.
In his opinion striking down the gender-quota law, Judge Terry A. Green found the law “violates the Equal Protection Clause of the California Constitution on its face.” The judge elaborated on why the California Legislature exceeded its authority in mandating the composition of boards:
The difficulty is that the Legislature is thinking in group terms. But the California Constitution protects the right of individuals to equal treatment. Before the Legislature may require that members of one group be given certain board seats, it must first try to create neutral conditions under which qualified individuals from any group may succeed. That attempt was not made in this case. [Emphasis in original]
The court concluded:
The statute treats similarly situated individuals – qualified potential corporate board members – differently based on their membership (or lack thereof) in certain listed racial, sexual orientation, and gender identity groups. It requires that a certain specific number of board seats be reserved for members of the groups on the list – and necessarily excludes members of other groups from those seats.
The Secretary has not identified a compelling interest to justify this classification. The broader public benefits produced by well-run businesses do not fit that bill.
California must treat its citizens equally as individuals under the law, and not give discriminatory, preferential treatment to some based on race, ethnicity or LGBT status. This court ruling marks a watershed in the core American value of equal protection under the law for all Americans. And it warns against the pernicious racialism of the radical Left.
This is not our only action in this area.
We completed a trial in a separate lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court on behalf of California taxpayers to prevent the state from implementing a 2018 law (SB 826) requiring publicly-held corporations headquartered in California to have at least one director “who self-identifies her gender as a woman, without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth” on their boards by December 31, 2019 (Robin Crest et al. v. Alex Padilla (No.19ST-CV-27561)).
As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.