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On the State of the ERA … and My State

Our Statement on Supreme Court Rulings

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Our Statement on Supreme Court Rulings


July 4, 2014


In July 1776, the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence asserting: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” Over the generations since, we have expanded these unalienable rights, extending protections and participation to include more and more Americans. Unfortunately, the promise of the Declaration remains unrealized even as we celebrate Independence Day, thanks in no small part to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Today, women and girls–and in some circumstances men and boys–lack basic protections against discrimination on account of sex. Therefore, Maryland NOW calls upon the Congress of the United States to issue a Declaration of Equality by quickly passing Senate Joint Resolution 15 and House Joint Resolution 113 to remove the time limit for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and facilitate ratification by three additional states. We the women and men of Maryland and across the U.S. need the Equal Rights Amendment to guarantee equal protection under law and constitutional defense against discrimination on account of sex.

Recent Supreme Court decisions provide clear evidence that this lack of constitutional equality seriously endangers the health, safety and well-being of women. The Hobby Lobby decision (Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.) singles out women for invidious job-place discrimination, placing employers in control of their healthcare. The Boston buffer zone decision (McCullen v. Coakley) strips away protections against verbal and even physical intimidation from women seeking family planning and basic healthcare.

It is difficult to understand why the Court mixed up whose religious rights and other freedoms were at stake in these cases. Inexplicably, the Court conflated legitimate freedom of religion rights of individuals with corporations’ improper imposition by of sectarian religious doctrine on their employees. The Court also tacitly condoned quasi-criminal conduct including harassment and intimidation of women seeking healthcare, mistakenly equating such conduct with free speech.

The Maryland Chapter of the National Organization for Women agrees that people have the right to worship as they choose, but no employer has the right to impose dogmatic principles on its employees. Yes, people have the right to speak freely, but sidewalk protestors have no right to force others to listen, much less employ threatening speech or conduct. The ERA would protect vulnerable Americans against these and similar outrageous abuses of basic civil and human rights. The ERA simply states:

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.


Maryland NOW represents 10 local chapters and over 1,800 active members across the state. It works to eliminate discrimination in the workplace and schools, secure reproductive justice for women, and end violence against women.



Sara Wilkinson, President, Maryland NOW, president@marylandnow.org, phone: (410) 347-1455