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NewsWatch: How Judicial Watch is Fighting California’s Unconstitutional Gender Quota System

Discriminating job applicants on the basis of their sex is blatantly unconstitutional, and Judicial Watch has fought hard to ensure that the Courts uphold this fundamental tenet in the job market. Read below to learn more about Judicial Watch’s activities in fighting California’s controversial Senate Bill 826, which requires a Gender Quota for Corporate Boards – actively undermining equal employment opportunities.

From Judicial Watch:

Judicial Watch Sues California over Gender Quota Mandate for Corporate Boards – (9/9/2019)

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court on behalf of three California taxpayers to prevent the State from implementing Senate Bill 826.  The 2018 law requires publicly-held corporations headquartered in California to have at least one director “who self-identifies her gender as a woman” on their boards by December 31, 2019 (Robin Crest et al. v. Alex Padilla (No.19ST-CV-27561)).Up to three such persons are required by December 31, 2021, depending on the size of the board. The lawsuit alleges that the mandate is an unconstitutional gender-based quota.

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.

Before the bill passed, a California Assembly floor analysis identified a “significant risk of legal challenges” to SB 826. It characterized the legislation as creating a “quota-like system” and noted, “[T]his bill, if enacted into law, would likely be challenged on equal protection grounds … 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.” In signing SB 826 in September 2018, then-Governor Brown wrote that “serious legal concerns have been raised” to the legislation. “I don’t minimize the potential flaws that indeed may prove fatal to its ultimate implementation.” He signed the bill anyway, noting “Nevertheless, recent events in Washington, D.C. – and beyond – make it crystal clear that many are not getting the message.”

In its complaint, Judicial Watch argues:

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.

Read More Here.

From The Chicago Tribune:

  1. California sued again for requiring women on company boards – (11/17/2019)

“California’s first-in-the-nation law requiring publicly held companies to put women on their boards of directors is facing a second legal challenge.

The law requires publicly traded companies to have at least one woman on their boards by the end of this year. By 2021, boards with five members must have two women, while those with six directors must have three.

The Pacific Legal Foundation provided The Associated Press with the lawsuit it filed in federal court Wednesday, arguing that the law violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The libertarian group wants to block such laws in California and other states. Similar proposals have been introduced in Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Washington state, the group said.

Illinois ultimately enacted a pared-down law this year requiring publicly traded companies to report the demographics of their boards and plans for promoting diversity to the state each year.

Some European countries, including Norway and France, already require corporate boards to include women.

“The law mandates exactly what the equal protection clause forbids — taking into account things like sex or race,” foundation attorney Anastasia Boden said. “The Constitution is meant to ensure that people are free to be individuals. Here, the law assumes that people of the same sex are essentially interchangeable.”

Another conservative group, Judicial Watch , sued in August, arguing that spending taxpayer money to enforce the law would violate the California Constitution.”

Read More Here.

2. From The Mercury News:

California sued over law requiring women on corporate boards – (8/10/2019)

“California’s first-in-the-nation law mandating women on boards of publicly held companies is facing what appears to be its first legal challenge.

Judicial Watch, a Washington-based conservative activist group, said in a lawsuit filed this week on behalf of three California taxpayers that spending taxpayer money enforcing the law is illegal under the California constitution.

When then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 826 into law last year, he noted in a letter to the state senate that “There have been numerous objections to this bill and serious legal concerns have been raised.”

In its lawsuit, Judicial Watch cited Brown’s words, plus an Assembly Floor Analysis that predicted the law would likely be challenged on equal-protection grounds.

“California’s gender quota law is brazenly unconstitutional,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton in a statement Friday.

The group is suing California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, whose office is responsible for enforcing the law.

“We support the underlying goal of SB 826 to create an equitable economy and inclusive California,” a spokeswoman for Padilla said Friday. “We will review the lawsuit and will respond in court.”

Under the law, all publicly traded California companies must have at least one woman on their boards by the end of this year. By the end of 2021, the law calls for at least two women on boards with five directors, and at least three women on boards with at least six directors. Companies that don’t comply will be fined $100,000 for their first violation.”

Read More Here.

    3. From Hot Air:

Lawsuit: California’s corporate-board gender quota is unconstitutional – 11/15/2019

“Can a state mandate gender representation of corporate boards — or do such quotas amount to an unconstitutional form of discrimination? California passed a law last year requiring all corporations with executive offices in the state to include at least one woman by the end of this year, and to have a representative number on boards by 2021. Thus far, they are the only state to mandate representation, which means they will be the first state to have to defend the quota in court:

Under California’s law, OSI would be required to have at least one woman on its board by the end of 2019, and at least three by the end of 2021. OSI did not immediately return emails and phone calls requesting comment about the lawsuit.

But the lawsuit filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California claims that the state’s mandate is unconstitutional and in violation of the equal protection clause because it discriminates on the basis of sex, and that requiring Meland to consider gender when voting to add members to OSI’s board forces him to discriminate. …

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D), who sponsored the legislation, defended the law’s constitutionality Thursday.

“I certainly respect the constitutional right of anyone to challenge the law in our courts,” she said in a statement to The Post. “However, I strongly believe that this measure meets constitutional requirements and will be held up in court. Significant research has shown the importance of adding women to boards to improve profitability and add to the economic well-being of the state, as well the interest of the state to advance gender equality.”

It’s not the first challenge to the state’s corporate-board quota mandate. Judicial Watch filed suit in August, but took a different strategy in crafting the complaint. Rather than represent a shareholder, Judicial Watch filed on behalf of three taxpayers objecting to the use of public funds to enforce this new law:”

Read More Here.