A California court has ruled that legislation requiring firms to include up to three women on their boards of directors is unconstitutional.
The law, which was passed in 2018, violated the right to equal treatment under state and federal law, according to Superior Court Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis.
Shirley Weber, the Secretary of State, has stated that she will appeal the decision.
Failure to fulfil the requisite representation could result in fines of up to $300,000 (£240,000) under the legislation.
It demanded that by the end of 2019, all firms with a California headquarters have at least one female board member.
By January 2022, there would be two women on boards with five or fewer members and three women on boards with six or more members.
The lawsuit was brought by Judicial Watch, a conservative legal organisation that said it was illegal to use taxpayer dollars to enforce legislation because imposed gender-based quotas violated the right to equal protection under Californian and federal law.
The organisation applauded the decision, and its president, Tom Fitton, blasted the “extreme Left’s unprecedented attacks on anti-discrimination law.”
Toni Atkins, a Democrat who helped shepherd the bill through the state legislature, said the verdict was upsetting and served as a reminder that “our legalities don’t always meet our realities.”
Despite the fact that no firm has ever been prosecuted under the measure, and the state acknowledged that it never intended to pursue any, the law is credited with increasing the number of women on corporate boards.
However, critics claim that half of the businesses required to submit under the regulation did not.
Others have said the law was built on shaky ground, and a letter from former Secretary of State Alex Padilla, which surfaced during the trial, warned then-Gov. Jerry Brown weeks before he signed it into law that it was practically unenforceable.
The decision comes only weeks after Judicial Watch successfully challenged another statute requiring members of “under-represented communities” to be included on boards of directors.
Under the bill, lawmakers hoped to increase the representation of specific racial groups and members of the LGBT community.