Wednesday, May 17, 2023
A federal district court yesterday ruled that California's corporate board diversity requirement is an unconstitutional racial quota.
The case, Alliance for Fair Board Recruitment v. Weber, tests California's requirement that publicly held corporations in the state have a minimum number of directors from designated racial, ethnic, and LGBTQ classes. Opponents argued that the requirement violated the Equal Protection Clause.
The district court agreed. The court ruled that the requirement as to race was an unconstitutional quota, and that the requirement as to sexual orientation and identity was not severable from the requirement for race. The result: the entire requirement fell.
Because the court said that the requirement was categorically unconstitutional as a quota, it declined to assess the requirement under strict scrutiny--and therefore to address the state's claim that the requirement was designed as a lawful affirmative action plan to remedy prior illegal discrimination.