Virginia Approved the Equal Rights Amendment this Week, But Its Future is Still Unclear
This week, Virginia's new Democratic-controlled legislature passed the Equal Rights Amendment [ERA] making it the 38th and final state required to make it part of the United States Constitution. However, its future is far from clear. Republicans argue that Virginia's ratification is not valid because it came after the period that Congress established to approve the Amendment. So, Republicans and Democrats will likely spend years fighting it out in Congress and the courts.
The ERA was first proposed in 1923 by suffragist leader and women’s rights activist Alice Paul, and was reintroduced in every session of Congress until it passed in 1972.
The text of the ERA is quite simple:
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.
It provides women with equal rights under the law and allows Congress to enforce it with appropriate legislation.
The original deadline for ratification of the ERA was March 22, 1979, but as that deadline approached, Congress extended it to June 30, 1982 [see photo above of Pres. Carter signing the extension]. Because only 35 of the needed 38 state legislatures had ratified the ERA by the new deadline, the amendment was said to have failed. However, activists continued to lobby for the ERA and eventually Nevada and Illinois approved it setting up Virginia's historic ratification this week.
Several conservative states that had approved the ERA [Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, Tennessee and South Dakota] later rescinded their votes after anti-abortion activists came out in opposition to the amendment, but there is no provision for rescissions in the Constitution and they have been ignored in the past regarding other amendments.
The more difficult problem for ERA supporters is the deadline issue and the Trump administration says that the amendment can't be ratified at this late date and believes that Congress can't resurrect it by retroactively extending the ratification period now.
But Democrats in Virginia and in Congress are preparing for a fight. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has said that he will work to make the ERA part of the United States Constitution and Democrats in the US Senate and House of Representatives have introduced legislation to extend the ratification period retroactively.
Ultimately, the federal courts will be called upon to settle the issue. But, if nothing else, the ERA is now the law in Virginia and it represents a historic victory for women's rights.
The New York Times: ..."supporters, like Jennifer Carroll Foy, a Democratic legislator, saw the moment as historic and the measure as timely."
“The question is, which side of history do you want to be on?” she said before the vote [in Virginia]. “The world is watching — your mothers, your sisters, your daughters.”
By: Don Lam & Curated Content