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ERA Action Update

February 28, 2022

(The following information is excerpted from Jan’s Board Report in February. Many thanks to her for sharing it with us.)

 

National Organization for Women
Government Relations Report

To: National Board Members

From: Jan Erickson, Government Relations Director

Date: February 28, 2022

The Equal Rights Amendment is NOW in Effect!

Are you surprised? It turns out that the 1972 resolution proposing that the Equal Rights Amendment be considered and passed by 38 ratifying also stipulated that the amendment would become effective two-years after the date of ratification by the final needed state.  Virginia – that final state — ratified the ERA on January 27th, 2020. However, there is a court case still pending that may determine whether the ERA can become part of the Constitution.

Advocates, organized by the ERA Coalition, held a zoom press conference on that date this year, with an impressive array of speakers from a half dozen women’s organizations, plus key lawmakers sponsoring legislation to remove the deadline from the 1972 ERA bill.  Among the latter group were Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Sponsor of the deadline removal bill in the Senate (S.J. Res. 1), Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), House sponsor of the deadline removal bill (H.J. Res. 17 which passed the House in March 2021, 222- 204) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), longtime leader in the effort to pass the ERA. Also, former Virginia Solicitor General Michelle Kallen who wrote the lawsuit brought by the attorneys general of Virginia, Illinois and Nevada.  Linda Coberly, chair of the ERA Coalition Task Force, gave a concise summary of where things stand with the three A.G.’s lawsuit, currently before the D.C. District appellate court. Former NOW president Ellie Smeal, currently president and CEO of the Feminist Majority Foundation, and NOW president Christian F. Nunes also spoke.

The press conference was followed by a breezy rally near the White House, with additional speakers, and concluded with a march to the Department of Justice to deliver more than 60,000 signatures on a petition urging the Department of Justice to take action to support the Equal Rights Amendment’s inclusion in the U.S. Constitution.

 

(From the ERA Coalition Report/Update March 5, 2022)

Status of the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

The Equal Rights Amendment is valid as the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

The Equal Rights Amendment has satisfied all requirements set forth in Article V of the Constitution to be added as the 28th Amendment. The ERA was passed through Congress with well over the required  2/3 majority vote and sent to the states in 1972. On January 27, 2020, Virginia voted to become the 38th and last needed- state to meet the 3/4 state ratification requirement. According to Section 3 of the  Equal Rights Amendment, which stipulates a two-year waiting period from the date of ratification, the  ERA is now officially in effect.

Enforcing the Equal Rights Amendment

The 28th Amendment will immediately be used to:

  • Provide a stronger constitutional basis for prohibiting sex discrimination in the Courts. • Provide Congress more authority to pass legislation to enact laws to ensure sex equality. • Require states to update their state statutes and administrative code for compliance with the 28th Amendment.

Continued Clarification Efforts

Although the efforts to clarify the 28th Amendment’s validity are not necessary, they are being pursued to remove any ambiguity as to the status of its ratification.

Concerns about the Amendment’s ratification are being raised because of the 7-year time limit in its preamble and the fact that 5 states have attempted to rescind their prior ratifications. As a result of an  OLC memo issued under the previous Trump Administration in anticipation of Virginia’s ratification, the  Amendment has yet to be published by the Archivist.

Advocates will continue to pursue the following campaigns:

  • Pressuring the Department of Justice and the Biden Administration to clear the way for the Archivist to publish the Equal Rights Amendment as the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
  • Publication of the Equal Rights Amendment as the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by the Archivist.
  • Passage of SJ Res 1, following House passage of HJ Res 17, to clarify that the Equal Rights Amendment has fulfilled all requirements to be added to the U.S. Constitution, regardless of the 7-year time limit added to the Amendment’s preamble.
  • Passage of H. Res 891, a new Congressional resolution affirming the validity of the Equal Rights Amendment as the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Introduction and passage will also be pursued in the Senate.

ERA Coalition – 1 Thomas Circle, Suite 700 ● Washington, DC 20005 ● 202-459-9939 ● www.eracoalition.org

In Search of Senate Co-Sponsors

The Equal Rights Amendment deadline removal bill, H.J. Res. 17, passed the House on March 17 (222-204) and has been placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar. It could be voted on at any time. However, there is the problem with the filibuster and steadfast Republican opposition. While it is likely that all 50 Democrats would vote for the legislation, plus the two Republicans that have signed on (Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Maine Sen. Susan Collins), we would still need eight more Republicans to overcome a threatened filibuster.

Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin (D), who is the lead sponsor of S. J. Res. 1, identical to the House version, has advised grassroots activists that if they recruit any co-sponsors, they must match a Democrat with a Republican co-sponsor. Currently, there are only four co-sponsors, in addition to Murkowski and Collins, Maine Independent Sen. Angus King, and Pennsylvania Democrat Sen. Bob Casey. Without the 60 votes necessary, the ERA deadline removal legislation will languish and perhaps die at the end of the 117th Congress – as happened in the 116th Congress.  Should a miracle occur and the filibuster disappears, the bill could be passed very quickly with all Democrats and the two Republicans voting.

Action at the DOJ

On the more hopeful news front, a letter signed by member organizations of the ERA Coalition, Including NOW, asks Attorney General Merrick Garland to withdraw a memorandum that was issued by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), Department of Justice during the Trump administration. The memorandum concluded that the deadline had expired and that the Equal Rights Amendment was no longer pending before the states. Withdrawal of that memorandum could help pave the way for the eventual enshrinement of the ERA in the U.S. Constitution. The letter to Attorney General Garland is attached here, and National NOW is already a signer.

Thanks to Jan Erickson, Director of Government Relations, National NOW.

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