February 25, 2024 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Superior Court Rules Diverse Company Board Laws Unconstitutional

On the first of April, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled the law which requires California-based or headquartered corporations to have a minimum of one director from an underrepresented community is unconstitutional.

The Los Angeles Blade reported that Judge Terry Green granted summary judgement to Judicial Watch, a Washington D.C. based conservative legal nonprofit founded by attorney Larry Klayman, led by Tom Fitton since 2003. 

On behalf of three residents, Judicial Watch sued the state and alleged that the state expenditure of taxpayer funds to enforce the law was unconstitutional, according to the court filings.

“This historic California court 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 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.”

Assembly Bill no. 979 mandates corporations to have at least one member who identifies as Black, African American, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Native Hawaiian or Alaska Native on its board by the close of the 2022 calendar year.

Andres Picon, a reporter with the San Francisco Chronicle noted that before the law passed, more than one-third of California boardrooms were all white, according to the Latino Corporate Directors Association.

Proponents of AB979 hoped it would push companies to hire more diverse directors, increasing equity in hiring and encouraging companies to be mindful of underrepresented communities, especially during decision making.

Critics of the bill argued the law is a violation of the equal protection clause in the California Constitution, that forcing diversity quotas would not lead to changes, according to the Blade. 

“Corporate boards should not just be made up of white, straight men. AB 979 is a critical law that promotes diversity and inclusion, and ensures people from marginalized communities have a seat at the table. This is a terrible ruling and I hope it will be overturned in higher court,” Out State Senator Scott Wiener, (D-SF) told the Blade.

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