NEWSFLASH: The ERA Rides Again

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) have reintroduced the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in Congress. Maloney has been joined, so far, by 159 co-sponsors in the House, with more to come.

Coming just days after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected class-action status for the sex-discrimination case against Wal-Mart, the latest push for the ERA has added resonance. Said Maloney,

The Wal-Mart [decision] … is a classic example of how far attitudes must still come. The facts of the case support the view that over a million women were systematically denied equal pay by the nation’s largest employer.

In the past year, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (who wrote the majority opinion in the Wal-Mart case), also declared that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution–which guarantees equal justice under the law for all persons–does not protect women from sex discrimination. The ERA–which reads simply “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex”–would make Constitutional protections against sex-discrimination undeniable.

Women’s groups now intend to “score” legislators based on their support for the ERA. Said Feminist Majority Foundation president Eleanor Smeal at a press conference announcing the bill’s re-introduction,

Women and men deserve and need full equal rights. Without constitutional equality, too many women, and thereby too many families, are cheated. Americans overwhelmingly support constitutional equality. It is time–in fact, it’s long overdue–for us to move forward. That’s why the Feminist Majority and other women’s organizations are this year going to score co-sponsorship of the ERA as a yes vote for constitutional equality for women; failure to co-sponsor will be on record as a vote against women’s constitutional equality. It is simple as that–do you value women as full equal citizens under the law or not?

First proposed as the “Lucretia Mott Amendment” way back in 1923, the ERA, originally written by Alice Paul, was finally approved by the U.S. Congress in 1972. But it had to be ratified by 38 states and only managed 35 before it passed the required seven-year deadline. Separate ERAs have been adapted by 21 states in their constitutions.

The amendment has been reintroduced in every session of Congress since 1982, but only received a floor vote in 1983.

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Photo from Flickr user Kheel Center, Cornell University under Creative Commons 2.0


  1. Any idea who took this photo or when it was taken?

  2. Why is there no online petition to sign?

  3. It’s utterly absurd that we have not passed the ERA! We really are not a democracy without it. Kudos to Maloney and Menendez for reintroducing it. I only hope they follow through. It is the perfect reaction to Scalia and his fellow sleazy right wing justices who want to keep women in the dark ages. (and let’s not forget how Clarence Thomas treated his coworker Anita Hill)

  4. MyraSands says:

    The three state solution is already in play. State legislatures are ALREADY voting on it. There is already a precedent for passing an amendment that has been around for a couple of hundred years. To limit the time in which the ERA could pass in the requisite number of states was illegitimate. State legislators are the ones whose feet must be held to the fire! Starting all over again is no solution, no matter how many good guys in the U.S. Congress vote to do so. How many centuries are we going to have to wait? I would rather see the time limit delegitimized and get on with passing the ERA in the last 3 states!!!

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