In 1978, Congress passed and President Jimmy Carter signed a resolution to extend the deadline to June 30, 1982. No new state ratified the ERA before that deadline. In 2017, Nevada ratified the amendment. Illinois followed in 2018. Virginia’s House of Delegates passed the amendment 59-41 on Wednesday.
The amendment’s language appears straightforward: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
Inez Stepman, a senior policy analyst at Independent Women’s Forum (IWF), warned against the ERA in a recent New York Post op-ed.
“American women are living the freest, most prosperous lives in human history. The Constitution protects their right to speak, worship, vote, bear arms and more. The female jobless rate is at a historic low, and women own the majority of wealth in the country, along with earning the lion’s share of higher degrees,” she noted. “Women are perfectly capable of flexing political power: They make up the majority of voters in nearly every election. Sex discrimination is already forbidden under both federal and state laws, as well as by the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The ERA won’t add to those protections, but could be used to impose sex-sameness.”
“Men and women are different physically, psychologically and emotionally,” she noted. “And while often those differences aren’t relevant, sometimes they matter a great deal, including in situations where women’s safety can be placed at risk if they are treated exactly like men.”
The ERA’s broad language and the fact that it would be added to existing anti-discrimination laws open up the possibility that radicals will use it to foist radical proposals on Americans. Courts in New Mexico and Connecticut used state-level ERAs to require government funding for abortion.
Feminists would be premature to celebrate Virginia’s ratification of the amendment. If states can ratify the amendment after the deadline, then other states should be allowed to rescind their ratifications. In any case, expect a long battle about this.