Supporters of the 1972 Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) claim that the proposal became the 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution on January 27, 2022. 

“The ERA has been ratified. It is the law,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. 

Is she right?

“The ERA has been ratified. It is the law.”
Eleanor Smeal

False. Completely make believe.

The ERA is a 1970s-era proposal that expired more than 40 years ago. Activists cannot simply assert that it is law on the basis of three recent symbolic state votes.

Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution,  two-thirds of both Houses of Congress may propose constitutional amendments. Proposed amendments are valid only if ratified by three-quarters of states (38). 

In 1972, Congress passed a resolution proposing the Equal Rights Amendment and sent it to the states for ratification within seven years. H.R.J. Res. 208, 92d Cong., 2d Sess., 86 Stat. 1523 (1972). Congress determined that, should the states approve the amendment, it would take effect two years after ratification by the 38th state.

By the end of the year, 22 states had ratified the proposed amendment. It took five more years for an additional 13 states to ratify —but, by then, five states had rescinded their ratifications. 

Realizing that the ERA would not garner sufficient support by the March 1979 deadline, Congress, in 1978, voted by simple majority to extend the ratification deadline until June 20, 1982.  H.R.J. Res. 638, 95th Cong., 2d Sess., 92 Stat. 3799 (1978). No additional States ratified the ERA before this “extension” expired.  

But in March 2017, to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the 1972 ERA passing Congress, Nevada symbolically voted to endorse the proposal. Illinois followed suit in May 2018. As did Virginia on January 27, 2020.  

Supporters of the ERA claim that these 21st century symbolic endorsements are valid. They are not. 

The ERA failed to gain approval from the required 38 states before the ratification deadline. Once the deadline passed, the ERA expired and was no longer pending before the states. And the resolutions approving the measure by Nevada, Illinois, and Virginia are merely symbolic.

The ERA is not currently part of the Constitution. In order to add the ERA to the Constitution, supporters would have to begin the process again.