California Corporate Diversity Law Struck Down as Unconstitutional

Many corporations failed to adhere to a December 31 deadline to include a minority on their board of directors

A California law requiring corporate boards to diversify was ruled unconstitutional Friday by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Terry Green.

The ruling did not explain the judge’s reasoning, according to the Associated Press.

The lawsuit was brought by advocacy group Judicial Watch, which argued that the law violated the state constitution’s equal protection clause.

The decision “declared unconstitutional one of the most blatant and significant attacks in the modern era on constitutional prohibitions against discrimination,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement.

In its court filings, the state of California argued that the measure didn’t “discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group of the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, national origin of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”

The law requires corporate boards of a publicly traded company with an office in California to have a member from an “underrepresented community”—including LGBT, Latino, Askian, Black, or Pacific Islander.

The law’s intent was that each board include at least one member of an “unrepresented group” on their board of directors by Dec. 31, 2021.

A March report from California Secretary of State Shirley Weber titled “Diversity on Boards” report found that about 300 out of 700 corporations had complied, and half of the corporations didn’t file the required disclosure statement.

The law had made a difference. Since it was passed in 2018, the number of women on boards more than doubled, according to a report from California Partners Project, a nonprofit focused on gender equality, according toThe New York Times.

It is uncertain if the state will appeal the ruling.

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