A judge has overturned a California law that requires companies to include women on every corporate board, striking down the rule as “unconstitutional.”
Superior Court Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis, a woman, said that the law was illegal because it implemented a gender-based quota.
The judge declared that the law violated the right to equal treatment as guaranteed in the California constitution.
The lawsuit was filed by political watchdog group Judicial Watch on behalf of California taxpayers.
The law was passed in 2018 and signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat.
According to the law, all publicly traded companies headquartered in California needed to have a woman, or someone who “identifies” as a woman, on their boards of directors.
If companies failed to do so, they would be subject to steep fines of $100,000 and up to $300,000.
During the trial, a letter surfaced from former Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
Padilla warned Brown that the law was unenforceable.
“Any attempt by the secretary of state to collect or enforce the fine would likely exceed its authority,” Padilla wrote at the time.
Brown signed the bill anyway.
“Given all the special privileges that corporations have enjoyed for so long, it’s high time corporate boards include the people who constitute more than half the persons in America,” Brown wrote in 2018.
Democrat State Senate leader Toni Atkins said the ruling was disappointing.
“More women on corporate boards means better decisions and businesses that outperform the competition,” read a statement from Atkins.
“We believe this law remains important, despite the disheartening ruling.”
Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton disagreed.
“The Court eviscerated California’s unconstitutional gender quota mandate,” said Fitton.
“The radical Left’s unprecedented attacks on anti-discrimination law has suffered another stinging defeat.”
The California law prompted Washington state to pass similar legislation, and other states including Hawaii and Massachusetts have introduced similar proposals.
A report from a women’s business group said that last year, women held 27% of board seats, up from 24% in 2020.