The Proposed Equal Rights Amendment Expired Last Century

  • Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, three-quarters of states (38) must ratify a proposed amendment before it can be adopted. These state ratifications must be reasonably contemporaneous in order to reflect the will of the people in one general time period.
  • In the 1970s, the ERA failed to gain approval from 38 states before the congressionally-imposed deadline for ratification expired.
  • ERA supporters, nevertheless, have sued to demand that it be added to the Constitution.
  • They argue that the ERA was resurrected when three states approved the measure this century—decades after the ratification deadline passed.
  • Supporters of the fifty-year-old proposed amendment should not be allowed to bootstrap it to the Constitution with a handful of recent endorsements.

A Lot Has Changed Since 1972

  • In 1972, when Congress sent the Era to the states, the world was a different place.
  • Since then, American women have achieved full legal equality with men, and they have made incredible social and econoic progress without the ERA.
  • Moreover, in 2020 the phrase “on account of sex” contained in the proposed amendment might be interpreted differently than in 1972. 
  • Given these changed legal, social, and cultural circumstances, it is unclear whether legislatures that ratified the ERA in the 1970s would do so again today. 

Adding The 1972 ERA To The Constitution Now Would Undermine Representative Democracy

  • More than 62 percent of eligible voters in 2020 were not born or were too young to vote when Congress sent the ERA to the states in 1972.
  • These voters have not had a chance to consider the consequences of the proposed ERA or to weigh in, through their elected representatives, on whether it should be adopted.
  • Adding an amendment proposed in 1972 to the Constitution now would undermine the right of today’s voters to participate in the amendment process as required by Article V.

Read IWLC’s Amicus Brief HERE.