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Legal Challenge Targets Montana Law Requiring Gender and Racial Diversity on Boards and Committees

A recent federal lawsuit challenges a Montana law aimed at promoting gender and racial diversity on state boards and commissions. The lawsuit, filed by the national organization Do No Harm, focuses on the Montana Board of Medical Examiners. This board oversees the licensing and regulation of healthcare professionals in the state.

According to the complaint, the law mandates “gender balance and proportional representation of minorities resident in Montana” when appointing members to state boards. The plaintiff argues that this law prevented one of their qualified members, a white woman dermatologist from Flathead County, from being appointed to the Board of Medical Examiners due to the current composition of its members.

The lawsuit asserts that such requirements are discriminatory and unconstitutional, claiming they serve no legitimate government purpose and are demeaning. The Pacific Legal Foundation, representing Do No Harm, has filed similar cases across the country challenging gender and racial mandates.

The lawsuit names Governor Greg Gianforte as a defendant since he appoints members to the medical board, subject to confirmation by the Montana Senate. A spokesperson for the governor emphasized that the focus is on appointing highly qualified individuals to serve Montanans.

This legal challenge reflects a broader debate around the country regarding laws that seek to ensure diversity on governing boards and commissions. Earlier this year, a federal judge in Iowa dismissed a similar law requiring equal gender representation on a commission in response to a lawsuit filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation.

By: Montana Newsroom staff

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