September 24, 2022
Leader Charles Schumer
United States Senate
Dear Leader Schumer,
We write to urge you to schedule a vote on S.J. Res 1, the bill to remove the time limit from the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). As you are aware, the resolution is cosponsored by more than the majority of the United States Senate, including the entire Democratic Caucus and Senators Murkowski and Collins. The House of Representatives voted to pass its companion bill, H.J. Res 17, on March 17, 2021, with bipartisan support. The fate of the ERA now lies in the hands of this Chamber.
With Virginia becoming the 38th state to ratify the ERA on January 27, 2020, all requirements for it to become the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution have been satisfied. However, the Archivist has yet to publish the ERA as part of the Constitution, citing the expiration of the time limit placed in the Amendment’s preamble. This, to us, is an unacceptable way to decide what should be in our supreme governing document.
The Senate has the opportunity to bring the country’s foundational governing document into the 21st century. On January 27, 2022, President Biden called on Congress to pass legislation affirming the ERA’s validity, which was the two-year anniversary of Virginia’s ratification of the ERA, and the date the ERA went into effect. The Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel’s released a memo confirming that Congress can act to remove the time limit as well as any ambiguity around the validity of the Equal Rights Amendment’s status as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution.
The simple principle of constitutional equality on the basis of sex is overwhelmingly popular with the American public. A poll conducted by Pew Research Center in the spring of 2020 found 78% support for the ERA being added to the Constitution. A separate poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research in January of 2020 similarly found that three quarters of Americans support the ERA and, importantly, that 90% of Democrats and 60% of Republicans were in favor.
In addition to being popular, decisions made by the Supreme Court this term underscore the ERA’s modern relevance and potential significance. The ERA would serve as a new tool – for Congress, for federal agencies, and in the courts – to advance equality in the fields of workforce and pay, pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment and violence, reproductive rights, and protections for LGBTQ+ individuals.
Recognition of the ERA as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution will confirm the rightful place of sex equality in all aspects of life and is fundamental to achieving equality in America. It has been nearly 100 years since this fight began to enshrine, into the Constitution, that equality of rights cannot be denied or abridged on account of sex. We urge the Senate to bring SJ Res 1/HJ Res 17 to the Senate floor for a vote and move our democracy forward.