Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) Updates from NWPC & NOW

From National Women's Political Caucus:

ERA Update

Equal Rights Amendment - In the 112th Congress

  • January 3, 2011- Justice Scalia spurs action for the ERA when he proclaims women are not covered under the term "personhood" in the 14th Amendment.
  • March 8, 2011- Representative Tammy Baldwin (WI) and Representative Andrews (NJ) introduced legislation to rescind the artificially imposed 06/20/1982 deadline on the ERA. This would validate the 35 states that did ratify and put us 3 states out from full ratification. NWPC is proud to support all legislation in favor of passage of the ERA.
  • Representative Carolyn Maloney (NY-14) has announced that she will re-introduce the ERA in the House of Representatives in April of 2011. This will begin the 112th Congressional fight to pass the ERA.
  • Senator Robert Menendez (NJ-D) has promised to re-introduce the bill into the Senate following Representative Maloney's lead.

Equal Rights Amendment- State Developments


  • February 7, 2011 - The Virginia Senate passed a resolution, SJ357, ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment.
  • January 31st and February 14th - House of Delegates companion bill, HJ640, was tabled in Subcommittee #1 (Constitution) of the Privileges and Elections Committee.


  • January 12, 2011 - Equal Rights Amendment (HFRCA 2) was referred to the Rules Committee.
  • February 15, 2011 - ERA is assigned to the Judiciary 1 - Civil Laws Committee
  • March 9, 2011 8:00 AM - Judiciary 1 - Civil Law Committee Hearing


Equal Rights Amendment: Yes, We Must!

March 10, 2011

Putting women into the U.S. Constitution will guarantee equal rights for women and men under the law, and NOW pledges to work for its passage in the 112th Congress. This International Women's Day, March 8, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and seven co-sponsors introduced a resolution (H.J. Res.47) to remove the arbitrary deadline that prevents the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) from becoming part of the Constitution -- even if three more states ratified it, bringing up the total number to the required 38 states.

NOW enthusiastically supports this "three-state strategy," as well as the new women's equality amendment introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) each year.

"This country needs an equal rights amendment right now, and NOW supports and works toward all strategies to secure its long-overdue ratification," said NOW President Terry O'Neill. "With so many attacks on programs that help women press for equal opportunities and a failure to pass a strong equal pay law last Congress, it's abundantly clear that guaranteeing protection from sex discrimination is not just a moral imperative -- it's urgent."

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia recently declared that he believes the Constitution does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, even though the Fourteenth Amendment states: "nor shall any State deprive any person of the equal protection of the laws" (emphasis added) In Scalia's world, women are not persons. Although this radical erasure of half the population from the concept of "person" is a minority view, the fact that Scalia is one of only nine Supreme Court justices gives him outsized power over women's everyday lives. And he has used that power, repeatedly -- even passionately -- to keep women down. Ratifying the ERA will create an iron-clad guarantee that laws cannot discriminate against women.

Congress passed the ERA in 1972, but provided that it must be ratified by at least 38 states within seven years. The deadline was strongly criticized by feminists as being a cynical effort to stymie ratification. The deadline was extended to 1982, but only 35 states had ratified it by then, leaving the ERA three states short of full ratification.

The states whose legislatures have not ratified the ERA are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia. Each of these states has an active contingent of pro-ERA supporters -- often headed by NOW leaders. On Feb. 7, NOW activists and allies celebrated a step toward progress, when the Virginia Senate passed a resolution ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment. Unfortunately, the House of Delegates companion bill was tabled twice, meaning no further action can be taken until the next legislative session.

Rep. Baldwin's resolution would ensure the ERA becomes the law of the land as soon as three more states do ratify. As she said, "The ERA is intended to ensure equality for women and men in all areas of society. It is an immediate and decisive remedy to end sex discrimination in federal and state laws and provides a clear benchmark for judicial interpretation. Achieving equality and justice for all in the United States is fundamental to our democratic principles, economic recovery, and continued leadership around the world. The intent of my resolution is simple: a path to equality for all Americans."

The ERA is quite simple, with three short sections:

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

Rep. Maloney's sister bill uses identical language and would require 38 states to ratify the amendment. The end result of both legislative strategies has overwhelming public support. Nearly all U.S. adults believe that female and male citizens should have equal rights, and the vast majority of them also believe equality should be explicitly guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.

Government relations intern Renata Maniaci contributed to this article.

Read more about constitutional equality for women

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