First They Came For Your Boardroom

Written by: 
Jon Sindell

Unprecedented Power Grab By California's State Legislature

Statism in California is not on the march, it's rampaging.

On August 30, the State Senate passed SB-826, which would compel corporations to appoint specified numbers of women to their boards.

Here me loud and clear, please, men and women alike:

There is nothing wrong, and everything right, with a company choosing to appoint a woman or women to its board.

But there is nothing right, and everything wrong, with using government power to force a company to put any person on its board (or in its management or anywhere else in the company). It is tyranny, plain and simple.

As a matter of pure political philosophy, this is a gross assault on freedom writ large, including economic and associational freedom.

As a constitutional matter, the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution provides as follows:

"No State shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. "

A quota requiring a company to discriminate in favor of one sex in the awarding of board positions automatically requires the company to discriminate against the other sex with respect to those positions, this violating the constitutional guarantee of equal protection.

The bill also violates the freedom of association, which the United States Supreme Court has ruled is inherent in the First Amendment.

Please note that there is no limiting principle in the bill, for it has already transgressed the constitutional guarantees intended to limit governmental infringement of our freedoms. When a barrier to government overreach has been destroyed, the time arrives to play slippery slope. 

By the logic of this bill, government could exert control over economic affairs in just about  any manner imaginable, including quotas in the boardroom for persons of every skin shade, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and so on. And on. And on again. And obviously, any all-women boards could be forced to add men to their boards by the logic of the bill. Nor is there any principled reason why the high-and-mighty in Sacramento could not impose quotas for representation in management positions or in the workforce at large

This seems a difference in kind from all manner of incremental increases in the power of the California state government.

It appears that Governor Brown has not yet signed the bill, though the buzz goes that he plans to. If you feel as I do, Paul Revere this to the max: contact the governor to urge a veto, and ask your freedom-loving friends to do likewise.

You will find contact information for Governor Brown here.

You can review the legislative history and text of the bill for yourself here

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