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(LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge has struck down a California law imposing racial and “gender identity” quotas on corporate boardrooms, finding such discrimination to be unconstitutional on its face.

Enacted in 2020, AB 979 required publicly-held corporations in the Golden State to have certain minimum numbers of board members from “underrepresented groups,” including “Black, African American, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Native Hawaiian, or Alaska Native, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender,” with the exact number depending on the corporation’s size. Violations would be punishable by fines ranging from $100,000 to $300,000.

As detailed by the conservative Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky and Abigail Carr in the Washington Times, a group calling itself the Alliance for Fair Board Recruitment sued over the law, arguing it violated the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of “equal protection of the laws” and a federal statute taking equal protection to mean that individuals enjoy “the same right in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts […and] the full and equal benefit of all laws.”

On May 15, Judge John Mendez of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California agreed, issuing a summary judgment in the plaintiff’s favor, noting that the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly “rejected racial and ethnic quotas” as “facially invalid” and that AB 979 clearly constituted a “racial quota as it requires a certain fixed number of board positions to be reserved exclusively for certain minority groups.”

“Judge Mendez has struck a crucial blow against numerical racial and gender quotas in the workplace and elsewhere,” von Spakovsky and Carr write. “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.”

Widely regarded as the most far-left state in the Union, California is long accustomed to enacting so-called “social justice” policies regarding abortion, racial and sexual identity politics, environmentalism, medical mandates, and more with impunity. 

However, the state’s Democrat leaders tend to have less luck when their actions draw the attention of federal courts. Just this year so far, judges have blocked California laws punishing doctors for dissenting from establishment orthodoxy on COVID-19 and compelling churches to subsidize abortions. A lawsuit is also currently pending against California’s assisted suicide law.