Loading...

States’ Attorneys General Sue to Force ERA into Constitution

February 6, 2020 by Tom Ramstack
States’ Attorneys General Sue to Force ERA into Constitution
Equal Rights Amendment supporter Donna Granski, right, from Midlothian Va., cheers the passage of the House ERA Resolution in the Senate chambers at the Capitol in Richmond, Va. Monday, Jan. 27, 2020. The resolution passed 27-12. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

WASHINGTON — The attorneys general of Virginia, Illinois and Nevada are suing in federal court for an order that would add the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

On January 27 Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the proposed Constitutional amendment that would expand women’s rights, such as to serve in the military and decide whether to have abortions.

The proposed amendment says that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

For previous proposed amendments, ratification by a 38th state met the threshold to rewrite the Constitution.

Congress approved the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972 but added a deadline for three-fourths of the states to ratify it no later than 1982.

Therein lies the heart of the dispute for the lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Legal scholars who testified before Congress last April said there is no basis in the Constitution for the authority of Congress to set a ratification deadline. Justice Department attorneys argue there also is no ban on Congress setting a deadline, which means it is discretionary for lawmakers.

The Constitution’s Article V describes procedures for an amendment. After the Senate and House each approve it by a two-thirds vote, three-fourths of state legislatures must ratify it. It takes effect when the National Archives publishes it as being part of the Constitution.

The only way the Equal Rights Amendment could be revived now is by a second round of approvals by Congress, according to a January 6 opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

“Should Congress wish to propose the amendment anew, it may do so through the same procedures required to propose an amendment in the first instance, consistent with Article V of the Constitution,” the opinion says.

The proposed amendment at first won broad support in Congress and the states. Supporters included President Richard Nixon and then-California Governor Ronald Reagan.

By 1977, there were 35 states that ratified it. But then the support stopped as conservatives warned it appeared to be unnecessary legislation. The 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause already provided the rights sought by Equal Rights Amendment advocates, according to its critics.

Support for the Equal Rights Amendment revived during the #MeToo movement of recent years as women sought protection from sexual harassment.

During a press conference last week when states’ attorneys general announced their lawsuit, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring criticized the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel opinion as “a last gasp of those who are trying to hang on to prevent women’s equality.”

The lawsuit describes a long history of American women being overlooked for the same rights as men.

“For nearly 150 years, our Nation’s foundational document did not acknowledge the existence of women,” says the lawsuit in a reference to the Constitution.

It adds, “After generations of effort, the women of this country are entitled to their rightful place in the Constitution.”

Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland and U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier of Nevada, both Democrats, recently introduced a bill to remove the ratification deadline from the language of the Equal Rights Amendment proposal.

The lawsuit is Commonwealth of  Virginia, State of Illinois and State of Nevada v. David S. Ferriero, in his official capacity as Archivist of the United States, Case No. 1:20-cv-00242, U.S. Dist. Ct.-D.C., Filed 01/30/20.

In The News

Health

Voting

Litigation

January 3, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Coaches Sue Washington Nationals After Defying Vaccination Mandate

WASHINGTON — Two coaches from the Washington Nationals baseball team are adding to the lawsuits spun off from mandates by... Read More

WASHINGTON — Two coaches from the Washington Nationals baseball team are adding to the lawsuits spun off from mandates by the federal government and private employers requiring employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The federal mandate announced by President Joe Biden last fall takes effect next... Read More

December 28, 2021
by Reece Nations
Coalition of Attorneys General File Amicus Brief Opposing Arizona Abortion Ban

PHOENIX — Attorneys General from 23 states signed on to an amicus brief that challenges an Arizona law prohibiting abortions... Read More

PHOENIX — Attorneys General from 23 states signed on to an amicus brief that challenges an Arizona law prohibiting abortions sought because of fetal abnormalities. The coalition contends in their brief that the preservation of women’s reproductive autonomy can and should occur while simultaneously dismissing discriminatory... Read More

Trump Sues NY Attorney General, Seeking to End Civil Probe

NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump sued New York Attorney General Letitia James on Monday, resorting to a familiar... Read More

NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump sued New York Attorney General Letitia James on Monday, resorting to a familiar but seldom successful strategy as he seeks to end a yearslong civil investigation into his business practices that he alleges is purely political. In the lawsuit, filed... Read More

December 16, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
Judge Orders Hospital to Offer Unapproved Drug to COVID Patient

FAUQUIER COUNTY, Va. — A Virginia judge ruled last week that a hospital has no authority to block a family’s... Read More

FAUQUIER COUNTY, Va. — A Virginia judge ruled last week that a hospital has no authority to block a family’s choice to be treated for COVID-19 with the controversial drug ivermectin. The drug is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat COVID-19. The... Read More

December 13, 2021
by Brock Blasdell
New York AG Adds to Civil and Criminal Lawsuits Against Former President Trump

NEW YORK — New York’s Attorney General Letitia James has subpoenaed former president Donald J. Trump to appear in a... Read More

NEW YORK — New York’s Attorney General Letitia James has subpoenaed former president Donald J. Trump to appear in a deposition next month to answer allegations regarding the Trump organization’s involvement in improperly valuing real estate assets. The request falls on top of a mountainous pile... Read More

December 10, 2021
by Dan McCue
Supreme Court Says Challenge to Texas Abortion Law Can Proceed

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that abortion rights activists can continue their challenge to Texas’ controversial "heartbeat”... Read More

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that abortion rights activists can continue their challenge to Texas’ controversial "heartbeat” abortion law, but only against some of the originally named defendants. To the disappointment of abortion rights advocates, however, the justice declined to reverse a Sept.... Read More

News From The Well
Exit mobile version