1 state eliminates gender discrimination on public boards

 April 13, 2024

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

A long list of discriminatory gender requirements has been identified across the nation in a new study from the Pacific Legal Foundation that encompasses public service opportunities.

But that now has been eliminated in one state, because of a plan adopted by lawmakers and signed by the governor specifically to remove those hindrances.

The change happened in Iowa, following a case brought by Charles Hurley, a father and grandfather who has for 40 years served his community as a lawyer, representative, and church member.

The foundation explained despite having served on the state legislature's Judiciary Committee, he was not appointed to the state Judicial Nominating Committee because he's a man.

"For nearly the entirety of Charles’s career, Iowa law has demanded a fixed 'gender balance' that dictates how many men or women can serve on the State Judicial Nominating Commission. The commission has 17 members, nine of whom are appointed. The other eight are elected: two members from each of Iowa’s four congressional districts," the foundation noted.

"State law requires the two commissioners elected in each district to be one male and one female. Further complicating matters is that the elections are staggered, so come election time, only one vacant seat in a district can appear on the ballot, and candidates are eligible to run only if they match the departing commissioner’s gender."

The foundation was blunt: "In other words, it’s a gender quota."

So Hurley challenged the process based on the Constitution's equal protection guarantee.

He won, with a district court ruling that Iowa failed to show how sex discrimination survived court scrutiny.

The foundation just recently confirmed that Gov. Kim Reynolds now has signed into law a plan that ends gender discrimination for state boards and commissions.

"The 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law, and now Iowa's laws fulfill that promise to board and commission applicants of either gender," said PLF spokeswoman Kileen Lindgren.

Iowa was the only state that specifically ordered that state boards must be balanced by gender.

But the PLF said its research found gender discrimination isn't uncommon.

The organization revealed it examined membership requirements for boards in all 50 states that license 20 different occupations, and "25 states have race- or sex-conscious mandates or quotas for public board membership."

"The animating moral principle of America’s founding is that each person is endowed with natural human rights that cannot be taken away by any other person, any majority, or even the state, except by due process of law. The concepts of individual rights and liberties are America’s heritage and are the indispensable basis for its future success. The government is a servant of individual rights, established to secure those rights," the foundation reported.

"Our Constitution creates the legal structure to guarantee that promise. Yet, slavery persisted in glaring contradiction for nearly 100 years after the Founders signed the Declaration of Independence. The Reconstruction Amendments, also known as the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, aimed to remedy that contradiction by promising full equality of liberty," the foundation said.

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