A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has tossed a lawsuit by three states asking him to declare the 1970s-era Equal Rights Amendment (“ERA”) a part of the U.S. Constitution.
The lawsuit, filed in 2020 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by Virginia, Illinois, and Nevada, claimed that the deadline for ratification adopted by Congress is invalid and that their recent approvals of the proposed amendment make it law of the land.
Last week, Judge Rudolph Contreras rejected that argument, upholding the ratification deadline and ruling that the three states approved the proposal decades too late.
Congress passed the ERA in 1972 and sent it to the states for ratification within seven years. But the amendment failed to gain approval of 3/4 of the states, as required by Article V of the Constitution, before 1979. Although Congress attempted to extend the deadline until 1982, the measure failed to pick up any additional support last century.
In 2017, 2018, and 2020, the legislatures of Nevada, Illinois, and Virginia, respectively passed resolutions approving the ERA. In their lawsuit, the three states claimed that these 21st-century ratifications could be cobbled together with ratifications from the 1970s to achieve the required 3/4 majority.
Contreras is the second judge to reject that argument. Last year, Boston federal judge Denise Casper dismissed a similar attempt by feminist special interest groups to bootstrap the ERA to the Constitution almost half a century after Congress sent it to the states for consideration. The Boston case, Equal Means Equal v. Ferriero, is now on appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
The language of the 1972 ERA states,
Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Progressives argue that the amendment is necessary in order to “put women in the Constitution.”
But, as IWF frequently points out, the Constitution, federal statutes, and the laws of all fifty states already prohibit unequal treatment and unfair sex discrimination. Layering the ERA on top of current constitutional and statutory equality mandates could require the government to go further, treating males and females the same in all circumstances. This would have significant negative consequences for women and girls. See HERE.
Independent Women’s Law Center has filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, urging the court not to add the controversial amendment to the Constitution without the consent of the people. In the brief, IWLC notes that 62% of today’s voters were either not born or too young to vote when the ERA was first considered by the states and argues that these Americans must be given an opportunity to debate the meaning and consequences of this controversial amendment before it can be made part of our Constitution.
READ IWLC’s First Circuit Brief HERE.