Judge Green Explains Why AB 979 Violates The Constitution

When I reported last Friday that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Terry Green had ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in their challenge to California's board quota law, AB 979, all I had was a brief minute order from the court.  Crest v. Padilla, LA Super. Ct. Case No. 20STCV37513.  Judge Green has now issued a 24 page order that provides his analysis and conclusions.  

In brief, Judge Green found that AB 979 facially violates the Equal Protection Clause of the California Constitution,  Cal. Const. Art. I, § 7, because:

The statute treats similarly situated individuals - qualified potential corporate board members differently based on their membership (or lack thereof) in certain listed racial, sexual orientation, an gender identity groups.  It requires that a certain specific number of board seats be reserved for members of the groups on the list- and necessarily excludes members of other groups from those seats.

He further found that the law does not further a compelling state interest:

The broader public benefits produced y well-run businesses do not fit that bill. On the other hand, while remediation of discrimination can be a compelling interest, the state must define a specific arena in which the discrimination has occurred, such as a school district or a specific industry within a particular local jurisdiction.  Corporate boards are not such an arena - they cover all industries and all parts of the country.  The Legislature did not even attempt to limit its investigation or its findings to California corporations, though jurisdictional restrictions ensured that only California corporations would be covered by the law.  And even supposing that corporate boards were a sufficiently specific arena, neither the Legislature nor the Secretary has produced the combination of (a) valid statistical comparisons and (b) anecdotal testimony which could serve as "convincing evidence" of discrimination in that arena.

Consequently, Judge Green found that the plaintiffs were entitled to "a judgment declaring as much and an injunction preventing the expenditure of taxpayer funds on implementation of the measure".