As the legislature winds down its activity for the year, the age-old issues of quotas and boycotts interfering with business operations have surfaced once again.

There are many laws that prohibit discrimination in the business world based on attributes such as race, religion and gender, but the California legislature is attempting to legally create discrimination by requiring that women sit as members of the board of public traded companies. The debate over quotas is back and sure to expand.

SB 826 requires each publicly held corporation with its principal executive offices in California to have at least one female director on its board beginning in 2019 either by filling a vacant board seat or expanding the board.

The business community rallied against this bill claiming that in a quest for more diversity the bill only dealt with discriminating on behalf of one classification of people. Thus, business groups argued that the measure is in violation of the equal protection amendment to the U.S. Constitution and lesser laws.

It is also the beginning of establishing quotas and you can bet on what will happen next if the requirement stands. The demands on what other classification of people sit on boards will only expand. And one has to wonder if it will stop there. Will publicly traded California businesses be required to have a percentage of the work force satisfy a specified quota as established by the legislature?

Fortunately, this effort to create quotas that are representative of the population doesn’t apply to government bodies—at least not yet. Or else, one of the four women on the five person Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors might be forced to give up her job.


A frivolous call for a boycott of a business by California Democratic Party Chair Eric Bauman because it chose to make a political donation to the Republican Party will go nowhere. But it raised the old retaliatory threat of boycotts to try and stifle political expression.

Bauman was peeved that In-and-Out Burger donated $25,000 to the state Republican Party and called for a boycott. The state party distanced itself from the call later, claiming the proposal was a personal one made by Bauman based on his convictions.

Bauman is a talented leader of his party and undoubtedly scored points and enhanced his profile with some in his party. But in this case he bit off more burger than he can chew.

Boycotts are terrible ideas against businesses that simply contribute to parties to enhance political debate. Should Republicans boycott movies or Silicon Valley businesses because most of the money from those industries end up in the hands of Democrats?

I’ve made my position on politically inspired boycotts against business clear previously on these pages here and here.

As I wrote in one of those articles: “In the free speech universe, boycotts themselves are a form of free speech, an individual expressing an opinion by choosing not to buy (or the obverse—to buy to support a business’ decision). On the other hand, boycotts can have a chilling effect on free speech by discouraging expression by business owners and others.” And: “I still believe in the marketplace of ideas. Discerning good ideas from bad takes debate and discussion. Cutting off and threatening to cut off people or institutions that want to voice their opinion ill serves democracy.”

Time for a meal. In-an-Out Burger tonight?