Americans have never supported quotas, as other countries do. We take pride in being the land of opportunity based on merit, regardless of race, creed, gender or religion.
But California just took another left turn in its newly enacted SB 826, which requires gender quotas on corporate boards. Publicly owned California companies must have at least one woman on their Boards of Directors and, for larger companies, three women by 2021.
Most companies already avoid incorporating in California, so the practical effect may be minimal. One study suggests that, despite all the hoopla, the new law will increase the number of women on Boards by a grand total of only 1 by 2021, at Apple.
But this new law is an alarming sea change. Amid the frenzied, hysterical attack against the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, the California law reveals where the Left is really headed.
This law would not be constitutional if the Equal Rights Amendment had been ratified as feminists wanted, and even persuaded Illinois earlier this year to pass 36 years after its deadline expired. ERA prohibits any law making distinctions based on gender.
Californian Christine Blasey Ford implausibly alleges that a 17-year-old Brett Kavanaugh made unwelcome advances on her at a teenage party in 1982. Ironically, that alleged party was in the same summer that ERA died.
Flouting ERA, California Democratic Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson authored this gender quota bill, supposedly to help women. SB 826 then sailed through the California Senate by a veto-proof supermajority of 23-9, and by 41-26 in its Assembly.
This leaves California companies scrambling to find token women to put on their Boards of Directors, to replace men who may be better for the companies. People will view any woman who is on the Board of a California company with skepticism as to whether she is the token, or is there based on merit.
This also opens the floodgates to me-too legislation to create quotas for every minority or other trait, just as California already has ballots in more than a dozen foreign languages. If a quota can be created for gender, then it can be created for any group that has political heft in the increasingly liberal California legislature.
Interest groups that are particularly powerful in lobbying the California legislature include homosexual activists and transgender advocates. Not many California legislators would vote against a bill to accommodate those interest groups with their own quotas, like the one just passed for women.
Perhaps some feel there are not enough women in high-paying jobs in construction or professional sports. The California legislature could take the same “shatter the glass ceiling” approach and mandate that construction crews on public highways, or professional sports teams that play in publicly financed stadiums, must include at least one woman.
Before long we could have a woman placekicker on California football teams, not because she is the best but because no one dares vote against this concept.
Executives of companies typically reap far greater compensation than directors do, so it may not be long before the social planners demand that at least one woman be among the highest- paid officers. If SB 826 is constitutional in requiring one woman on each Board, then it would be constitutional to mandate highly compensated women, too.
Quotas are something that other, less- successful economies use, in places as far afield as Norway and India. In 2008, Norway required public companies to reserve 40% of their Boards for women, upon threat of dissolution.
Yet a decade later, there is no evidence that Norway’s law has yielded any benefits. It failed to increase the number of women working in the companies, and it has not boosted the number of female CEOs there either.
The “invisible hand” that has guided our country to the greatest prosperity in world history requires that there not be any impediments imposed to limit opportunity. Quotas have been rejected by virtually every elected national politician in the United States, including Democrats.
But the California legislature has become shockingly aggressive in defying national standards upon which our country thrives. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Department of Justice is suing to overturn another bill recently signed into law by California Governor Brown, which would prohibit cable companies from charging internet hogs like Google and Facebook for the immense traffic they use.
Not all feminists are pleased by California’s new gender quota for corporate Boards. No one can argue both for this California law and ERA, for example.
In California any man can consider himself to be a woman, and require acceptance as such. Olympic champion Bruce Jenner, a Californian who has declared himself to be a woman named Caitlin, will be in hot demand by companies seeking to comply with this new law.
John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) and lead the continuing Phyllis Schlafly Eagles organizations with writing and policy work.