California Court Rules LGBT Corporate Board Law Unconstitutional

A Los Angeles County judge issued a ruling on Friday declaring that the new California state law compelling private corporations to include ethnic minorities or LGBT on their boards is invalid under the state constitution.

The case against the state was brought by the conservative public interest group Judicial Watch. The lawsuit alleged that it is against the state constitution for taxpayer funds to be used to violate the Equal Protection Clause. Judicial Watch asked for an injunction against the state government to stop enforcement of provisions that discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, sexual preference and transgender status.

The order entered on Friday granted a summary judgment in favor of Judicial Watch, meaning the issues were resolved without a formal trial based on the briefs and arguments presented by the parties.

The law that was struck down required publicly traded corporations to have at least one board member from an “underrepresented community.” A qualifying member could be LGBT, Black, Latino, Asian, Native American, or Pacific Islander.

Judicial Watch argued in its papers filed with the court that “racial balancing is not transformed from ‘patently unconstitutional’ to a compelling state interest simply by relabeling it ‘racial diversity.’”

The state argued in its briefs filed with the court that the law did not discriminate against or give preferential treatment to any group based on “race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin” as prohibited by the Equal Protection Clause. That constitutional provision, which is also a fundamental part of the U.S. Constitution, restricts the government from enacting laws that do not apply equally to all persons in the state. The judge disagreed with the state by declaring the law violates the rule against illegal discrimination.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton issued a statement saying the order addressed one of the “most blatant and significant attacks in the modern era on constitutional prohibitions against discrimination.” He added that the taxpayer clients in the case are “heroes for standing up for civil rights against the Left’s pernicious efforts to undo anti-discrimination protections.”

It is unknown at this time if the state will appeal the judge’s ruling.

A similar lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch challenging a separate California state law requiring at least one person “who self-identifies her gender as a woman” to be named as a director on private corporate boards is still pending.