Judicial Watch announced a hearing was scheduled in the California Superior Court regarding its case challenging California’s gender quotas for corporate boards. Arguments will be heard by Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis.
Judicial Watch filed suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court on August 6, 2019, on behalf of three California taxpayers, Robin Crest, Earl De Vries and Judy De Vries. The 2018 law, known as Senate Bill 826 (SB 826), requires every publicly held corporation headquartered in California to have at least one director “who self-identifies her gender as a woman” on its board of directors by December 31, 2019. The law also requires corporations to have up to three such persons on their boards by December 31, 2021, depending on the size of the board (Robin Crest et al. v. Alex Padilla (No.19STCV27561)).
The lawsuit alleges that the quota violates the Equal Protection Clause of the California Constitution, among other provisions, and asks the court to order that no taxpayer funds be spent on the illegal provision. Both sides have asked the court to enter judgment in their favor. Tuesday’s hearing will address both requests.
In July 2020, the court cleared the way for the lawsuit to proceed, holding that Judicial Watch’s clients had standing under state law to sue.
Judicial Watch argues in its court filings:
SB 826 requires that subject corporations set aside a certain number of board seats for women or create new seats for which only women may apply…. SB 826 imposes the additional requirement that one or more seats be set aside or created for women. The only criterion for occupying these seats is being female. Men are excluded from the seats no matter how well-qualified they might be …
Judicial Watch includes expert analysis from Jonathan Klick, Ph.D., J.D., an expert in econometrics, statistics, and corporate law, who concludes:
In my opinion, the evidence offered in [the] declarations supporting Secretary Padilla’s motion for each of these points (underrepresentation of women on boards, discrimination as the cause of this underrepresentation, and that research shows a differential benefit of appointing women, as opposed to men, in terms of firm performance) is deficient and unreliable.
“California politicians want to use SB826 to upend decades of settled constitutional law that prohibits discrimination based on sex,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “We hope this lawsuit vindicates the rule of law and the commonsense principle that the way to end any discrimination based on sex is to stop discriminating on the basis of the sex.”