The Brave Stand Up Against the Absurd in California

As a state senator who enjoyed participating in the legislative process, I had to read and vote on numerous bills every year. One that is currently in the news is Senate Bill (SB) 826, written by former State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D – Santa Barbara).It required California-headquartered corporations to appoint at least one woman to their board of directors by December 31, 2019, and up to three women by December 31, 2021, depending on the size of the board. Sen. Jackson was the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and I served as the committee’s vice chair. When she presented the bill on April 24, 2018, I chaired the meeting. The bill provided quite a discussion among the committee’s members, and you could sense the uncomfortableness in the air as my Democratic colleagues had reservations but were not accustomed to voting against bills from a member of their own party, let alone the chair of the committee. With some grumbling, the bill passed out of committee with only one “no” vote. Mine. I was opposed to interfering with the private sector and mandating quotas and said as much. Sacramento was overstepping its bounds, again. To me it seemed more of a showboating exercise to try and make a point. But mandating that a female be on a publicly owned board would make that person a token, selected not because of her qualifications for the position, but for the requirement. This did not seem healthy to me, as it would be an instant stigma for the woman selected. A similar reaction was felt nationally when President Biden stated early on that his choice for the United States Supreme Court would be a black woman—instead of saying the choice would be the best possible selection and if she happened to be black, all the better. In the case of SB 826, I believe the Senate was fully aware that this intrusion in corporate board rooms would be challenged in court. It was. Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court on behalf of California taxpayers Robin Crest, Earl De Vries, and Judy De Vries (Robin Crest et al. v. Alex Padilla, Case No. 19STCV27561). The verdict just came after a 28-day trial. I did not watch the proceedings but was informed that my comments on that April 24th day four years ago would be presented and that I may be contacted to testify. Judicial Watch argued that the quota for women on corporate boards violated the Equal Protection Clause of the California Constitution. California Superior Court Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis agreed and “determine[d] that SB 826 … is thus enjoined.” In the Judicial Watch announcement, it provided the following: “In the Court’s 23-page verdict, the Court specifically found that ‘S.B. 826’s goal was to achieve general equity or parity; its goal was not to boost California’s economy, not to improve opportunities for women in the workplace nor not to protect California taxpayers, public employees, pensions and retirees.’ Further, the Court found that ‘putting more women on boards demonstrated that the Legislature’s actual purpose was gender-balancing, not remedying discrimination.’ ‘There is no Compelling Governmental interest in remedying discrimination in the board selection process because neither the Legislature nor Defendant could identify any specific, purposeful, intentional and unlawful discrimination to be remedied,’ Judge Duffy-Lewis said. “’The Court eviscerated California’s unconstitutional gender quota mandate. This is the second California court decision finding that quotas for corporate boards are unconstitutional. The radical Left’s unprecedented attacks on anti-discrimination law has suffered another stinging defeat,’ stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. ‘Thankfully, California courts have 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. Judicial Watch’s legal team has helped protect the civil rights of every American with these successful lawsuits.’” The number of bills that I voted against, knowing they would not overcome judicial muster, is rather high. The supermajority passed bills that went beyond the boundaries of reasonableness because they could. This is tragic because of the costs that are borne by either the California Attorney General or the California Legislative Counsel in defending the nonsense. In the case of SB 826, I know many of my Democratic colleagues were exasperated by this bill but had to go along with their herd and support it. SB 826 was a very expensive foray for an act of showmanship, versus an act of true leadership, and has been a costly use of taxpayer dollars. It takes a rare taxpayer to stand up to the strong forces controlling Sacramento. As President Abraham Lincoln once said, “Let’s have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.” My thanks

The Brave Stand Up Against the Absurd in California

As a state senator who enjoyed participating in the legislative process, I had to read and vote on numerous bills every year. One that is currently in the news is Senate Bill (SB) 826, written by former State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D – Santa Barbara).

It required California-headquartered corporations to appoint at least one woman to their board of directors by December 31, 2019, and up to three women by December 31, 2021, depending on the size of the board.

Sen. Jackson was the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and I served as the committee’s vice chair. When she presented the bill on April 24, 2018, I chaired the meeting. The bill provided quite a discussion among the committee’s members, and you could sense the uncomfortableness in the air as my Democratic colleagues had reservations but were not accustomed to voting against bills from a member of their own party, let alone the chair of the committee.

With some grumbling, the bill passed out of committee with only one “no” vote. Mine. I was opposed to interfering with the private sector and mandating quotas and said as much. Sacramento was overstepping its bounds, again.

To me it seemed more of a showboating exercise to try and make a point. But mandating that a female be on a publicly owned board would make that person a token, selected not because of her qualifications for the position, but for the requirement. This did not seem healthy to me, as it would be an instant stigma for the woman selected. A similar reaction was felt nationally when President Biden stated early on that his choice for the United States Supreme Court would be a black woman—instead of saying the choice would be the best possible selection and if she happened to be black, all the better.

In the case of SB 826, I believe the Senate was fully aware that this intrusion in corporate board rooms would be challenged in court. It was. Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court on behalf of California taxpayers Robin Crest, Earl De Vries, and Judy De Vries (Robin Crest et al. v. Alex Padilla, Case No. 19STCV27561).

The verdict just came after a 28-day trial. I did not watch the proceedings but was informed that my comments on that April 24th day four years ago would be presented and that I may be contacted to testify.

Judicial Watch argued that the quota for women on corporate boards violated the Equal Protection Clause of the California Constitution. California Superior Court Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis agreed and “determine[d] that SB 826 … is thus enjoined.”

In the Judicial Watch announcement, it provided the following:

“In the Court’s 23-page verdict, the Court specifically found that ‘S.B. 826’s goal was to achieve general equity or parity; its goal was not to boost California’s economy, not to improve opportunities for women in the workplace nor not to protect California taxpayers, public employees, pensions and retirees.’ Further, the Court found that ‘putting more women on boards demonstrated that the Legislature’s actual purpose was gender-balancing, not remedying discrimination.’ ‘There is no Compelling Governmental interest in remedying discrimination in the board selection process because neither the Legislature nor Defendant could identify any specific, purposeful, intentional and unlawful discrimination to be remedied,’ Judge Duffy-Lewis said.

“’The Court eviscerated California’s unconstitutional gender quota mandate. This is the second California court decision finding that quotas for corporate boards are unconstitutional. The radical Left’s unprecedented attacks on anti-discrimination law has suffered another stinging defeat,’ stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. ‘Thankfully, California courts have 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. Judicial Watch’s legal team has helped protect the civil rights of every American with these successful lawsuits.’”

The number of bills that I voted against, knowing they would not overcome judicial muster, is rather high. The supermajority passed bills that went beyond the boundaries of reasonableness because they could. This is tragic because of the costs that are borne by either the California Attorney General or the California Legislative Counsel in defending the nonsense. In the case of SB 826, I know many of my Democratic colleagues were exasperated by this bill but had to go along with their herd and support it.

SB 826 was a very expensive foray for an act of showmanship, versus an act of true leadership, and has been a costly use of taxpayer dollars.

It takes a rare taxpayer to stand up to the strong forces controlling Sacramento. As President Abraham Lincoln once said, “Let’s have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.” My thanks go out to Robin Crest, Earl De Vries, and Judy De Vries for their willingness and bravery to stand up to the absurd.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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John Moorlach is a former Orange County Supervisor who most recently served as a state senator. He previously spent 12 years as Orange County’s Treasurer-Tax Collector, and led the county out of bankruptcy.