June 6, 2023

California’s Unconstitutional, Morally Repugnant Racist Quotas Thrown Out by Federal Court

Judge John Mendez has struck a crucial blow against numerical racial and gender quotas in the workplace and elsewhere.

Editor’s Note: This column was coauthored by Abigail Carr, Summer 2023 Member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.

How far will California go to enforce unfair and discriminatory racial and gender quotas? Until recently, the Golden State was willing to fine corporations up to $300,000 if they didn’t engage in such inequitable behavior.

Fortunately, on May 15, a federal district court put an end to that. In Alliance for Fair Board Recruitment v. Weber, it struck down a state statute that required racial and gender-identity quotas for board members of publicly held corporations in California. The court ruled that this quota statute violates the U.S. Constitution as well as federal civil rights law.

The 2020 statute, AB 979, required California corporations to have as members on their board of directors individuals from supposedly “underrepresented groups,” including “an individual who identifies as Black, African American, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Native Hawaiian, or Alaska Native, [or] gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.”

The number of directors needed to satisfy these quotas was determined by the size of the corporation, but a minimum of one to three members was required. This racist statute went so far as to impose fines ranging from $100,000 to $300,000 for noncompliance.

After this law took effect in 2020, the Alliance for Fair Board Recruitment, which is “composed of individuals who do not self-identify into one” of the statute’s groups, sued California Secretary of State Shirley Weber. The alliance argued that this quota system violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees every American “equal protection of the laws,” as well as 42 U.S.C. § 1981.

42 U.S.C. § 1981 is the federal statute that implements the 14th Amendment’s protections. The statute guarantees all people “the same right in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts … [and] the full and equal benefit of all laws.”

Judge John Mendez concluded that AB 979’s racial and gender quota system violates the 14th Amendment and § 1981 and that the alliance was entitled to “summary judgment in its favor … as a matter of law.”

California actually conceded that AB 979 “constitutes a racial classification” system, but tried to argue that it was “permissible because it is aimed at remedying past discrimination.” But Judge Mendez wasn’t buying it, noting that the U.S. Supreme Court has “rejected racial and ethnic quotas” on multiple occasions as “facially invalid” and unconstitutional, including in cases arising in California.

California also claimed that no actual quotas existed because the statute allows corporations to have unlimited directors, ensuring that candidates would compete with one another and be assessed individually. The court, however, dismissed this argument, emphasizing that the statute enforced “a racial quota as it requires a certain fixed number of board positions to be reserved exclusively for certain minority groups.”

Finally, apparently seeing the futility of its arguments, California tried to persuade the judge to simply sever all of the individual groups specifically mentioned in the statute, such as Asians and transgender people, leaving in the quota system for “underrepresented groups.” California argued this would not “adversely affect” the “basic operation” of the statute.

But Judge Mendez rejected that argument, too, since the statute has no severability clause and because he concluded that the Legislature “would not have adopted the remainder of AB 979 had it foreseen its partial invalidation.” Moreover, Judge Mendez said, removing those specific racial and ethnic categories “would adversely affect the coherence of the remaining provision.”

That was a polite way of saying it would provide the opportunity for blatant discrimination based on whatever definition that government bureaucrats — or employers — want to give “underrepresented groups.”

This decision is a resounding victory for the alliance and everyone who recognizes that such discrimination is offensive and wrong. With a decisive stroke of the judicial pen, the judge struck down a biased and immoral practice, affirming the principles of meritocracy and equal opportunity.

Judge Mendez has struck a crucial blow against numerical racial and gender quotas in the workplace and elsewhere. Requiring hiring or appointments based on racial and gender quotas, as well as a quota based on whom an individual has sex with, is simply outrageous, besides violating the Constitution and basic concepts of fairness.

California may appeal, but it would be highly unlikely to prevail and would simply delay the inevitable, which is this and other similar statutes being thrown out by the courts. Such quota systems are not only opposed by the overwhelming majority of Americans, but they are unconstitutional and morally repugnant.

Republished from The Heritage Foundation.

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

The Patriot Post and Patriot Foundation Trust, in keeping with our Military Mission of Service to our uniformed service members and veterans, are proud to support and promote the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, both the Honoring the Sacrifice and Warrior Freedom Service Dogs aiding wounded veterans, the National Veterans Entrepreneurship Program, the Folds of Honor outreach, and Officer Christian Fellowship, the Air University Foundation, and Naval War College Foundation, and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. "Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one's life for his friends." (John 15:13)


“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

Join us in prayer for our nation, that good and righteous leaders would rise and prevail, and that division would be healed so we can be united as Americans. We pray also for the protection of our Military Patriots, Veterans and First Responders, and for their families.

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2023 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.