Congress is Convening the First Official Hearing on the ERA in Three Decades

The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) next week—the first in over three decades.

“With issues of equality at the forefront of today’s conversations—with the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, with the Women’s Marches and more women than ever before running for and being elected to office,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney said in a statement, “we have an extraordinary responsibility and opportunity to seize this moment and make lasting change by finally ratifying the ERA.”

Maloney is the sponsor of H.J. Res. 35, which would re-start the ratification process for the ERA; she has reintroduced the ERA one dozen times since she won her first Congressional election in 1992. Maloney has also emerged a leader in the modern fight to ratify the ERA—and she’s one of many advocates who have been demanding an official Congressional hearing on the matter since 1982.

As Ms. reported in its Fall 2018 issue, Maloney convened her own “shadow hearing” on the ERA last June—making time for feminist activists, celebrities and experts to testify on the urgency of women’s constitutional equality in defiance of then-House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte’s refusal to convene a Congressional hearing on the matter. That afternoon marked the first time the measure was publicly discussed by Congress in 33 years.

In a recent Ms. op-ed, Maloney outlined numerous ways in which women’s lack of constitutional equality can be “devastating”—ranging from dismissals of lawsuits based on discrimination to an inability for government officials to create legislation outlawing female genital mutilation.

The ERA, which was first introduced in 1923, has been ratified by two states in the last two years. Now, it’s one state away from reaching the majority approval it needs to become law—and on April 30, women will finally be able to make their voices heard on Capitol Hill about why it matters. Perhaps, at long last, Maloney’s colleagues are finally ready to listen.

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Roxanne Szal (or Roxy) is the managing digital editor at Ms. and a producer on the Ms. podcast On the Issues With Michele Goodwin. She is also a mentor editor for The OpEd Project. Before becoming a journalist, she was a Texas public school English teacher. She is based in Austin, Texas. Find her on Twitter @roxyszal.