What to Know About THE ALICE PAUL EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” • 1st introduced in Congress in 1923 and in every Congressional session from 1923-1970. • Passed both houses of Congress in 1972 and endorsed by Pres. Nixon; sent to the states for ratification by at least 38 states. • 38 states have now ratified the ERA: • Through 1977, 35 of 38 states ratified ERA. 1979 deadline for ratification extended to June 30, 1982 but no additional states added. • From 2017-2019, Nevada, Illinois and Virginia ratified the ERA to fulfill the required 38 states to ratify the constitutional amendment. • A bill has been introduced in House & Senate to remove the ratification deadline; the Senate did not hold a vote earlier in 2023 but will likely do so later in the 2023-24 session with bipartisan support. Poll results from 2016: • 94% of Americans polled support ERA • 80% believe equal rights for women is already in US Constitution
WHY IS THE ERA IMPORTANT? • Because women’s rights have never been upheld based on other amendments, even the 14th amendment’s equal protection clause. Justice Antonin Scalia has said that he doesn’t think the US Constitution prohibits sex discrimination. • Because without the ERA, women’s rights are not constitutionally equal to the rights of men. • Because women need a clearer and stricter judicial standard for deciding cases of sex discrimination. • Because without the ERA, there is no constitutional basis for claims of gender-based violence, and the Supreme Court has denied justice to victims of domestic violence. • Because the ERA would close the gap in existing laws protecting women from discrimination that aren’t comprehensive enough. • Because the US “should” be a global leader on women’s rights, but we are not when legal protections are not included in the US Constitution.
Women’s Equality Day on August 26 is when we mark the day in 1920 when the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote officially became part of the US Constitution. Three years later, Alice Paul introduced the Equal Rights Amendment in Congress. It took from 1923 until 1972 for the ERA to pass in Congress. Finally, in 2020 the required 38 states ratified it. However, it has still not been certified as part of the Constitution due to artificial deadlines imposed by Congress. Those deadlines need to be lifted by the Senate.