CWL Files Amicus Brief in Support of Statute Requiring Women on Corporate Boards 

California Women Lawyers filed an amicus curiae brief Oct. 8 in support of SB 826, the statute signed into law in 2018 that requires all publicly held corporations headquartered in California to have a minimum number of women on their boards of directors. 

The brief was filed in Meland v. Weber, a suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California against the Secretary of State, challenging the constitutionality of SB 826 on the ground that it requires shareholders to discriminate on the basis of sex when exercising their voting rightsThe state argues that the plaintiff lacks standing and that, in any event, SB 826 passes the applicable intermediate scrutiny test because its flexible requirements are tailored to the important government interest in addressing gender discrimination and increasing diversity at the highest levels of business governance. 

“SB 826 is important legislation that already has had a positive impact in California, increasing the number of highly qualified women serving on corporate boards,” said CWL president Ana M. Storey, executive director of the nonprofit LevittQuinn Family Law Center in Los Angeles. “There are plenty of women who are more than qualified to serve on these boards, and SB 826 helps ensure that they get a seat at the table by requiring companies and shareholders to look beyond their inner circles when recruiting board members.” 

The plaintiff in the lawsuitOSI Systems, Inc. shareholder Creighton Meland, Jr., filed a motion for preliminary injunction to block enforcement of SB 826 in August. CWL’s amicus brief supports the State’s opposition to the preliminary injunction motion, which will be heard by the court Oct. 19. 

CWL, the only statewide bar association dedicated primarily to advancing the status of women in the law and society, submitted its amicus brief to provide additional context on the discriminatory structural barriers that lead corporations to exclude women from their boardrooms, to explain the need for governmental action to halt this discrimination against women at the highest levels of business leadership, and to highlight the many experienced and well-qualified women who are willing and able to serve on public company boards. 

San Diego appellate specialist Johanna Schiavoni, a past president of CWL affiliate bar association Lawyers Club of San Diego, drafted the brief on behalf of CWL, with the assistance of Melanie Gold, who recently retired as a research attorney from the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division One. CWL is grateful to Schiavoni and Gold for donating their time and expertise.