The Trump Administration’s DOJ Won’t Have the Last Word on the Equal Rights Amendment

The issuing today of the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel’s opinion on the arbitrary timeline on the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is not binding. In fact, the timeline in the preamble of the ERA itself is not binding.

The #EqualRightsAmendment would require the Supreme Court to use the higher standard of “strict scrutiny” rather than…

Posted by ERA Coalition on Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The arbitrary timeline placed in the preamble of the ERA was not voted on by any state, and the proponents of the ERA believe it is therefore is not binding. The original timeline put in the preamble in 1972 was changed by Congress itself in 1979. Pending before Congress right now are resolutions to remove this arbitrary timeline in the preamble. Whether or not this timeline is removed by Congress, we believe it is not binding because it was never a part of the Equal Rights Amendment that was ratified by the states.

Proponents of the ERA are not surprised that on the opening day of the General Assembly of Virginia, which is poised to become the 38th and final state necessary to ratify the ERA, that the Trump administration has released this hostile opinion. The Trump administration has shown again and again its opposition to equal rights for women and has even blocked the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

But this last minute effort to block Virginia becoming the 38th state to ratify the ERA is a futile effort. The ERA will be ratified by Virginia soon, as a majority of both Houses have pledged to vote to ratify the ERA. It is a top priority of the Democratic majority leadership of both Houses, as well as 82 percent of the Virginia voters, according to recent polls, and will be passed early in this session.

This attempted roadblock put in place by the Trump Department of Justice will not work. The ERA will be ratified by Virginia.


Eleanor Smeal is president of the Feminist Majority Foundation and publisher of Ms. For over five decades, she has played a leading role in both national and state campaigns to win women’s rights legislation, including the Equal Rights Amendment.