Goal: A United States Constitutional Guarantee of Equality for Women
The Equal Rights Amendment states:
Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.
Women are not treated equally under the Law in the U.S. Discrimination continues in all aspects of life from Employment, Education, Social Security, Pensions, Insurance, to Health Care. The ERA would change the burden of proof in sex discrimination cases to a higher level of scrutiny under the law. A level of strict scrutiny in all sex discrimination cases would mean that those fighting sex discrimination would no longer have to prove discrimination, but instead those who discriminate would have to prove that they did not violate the Constitution. This would have major impact on a wide range of sex discrimination cases.
The ERA was originally proposed in 1923 to insure women’s equality as the next step after the Constitutional amendment guaranteeing the women’s right to vote. It was passed by Congress in 1972 and ratified by 35 states. 38 states are necessary for enactment as an amendment to the Constitution.
There was a major campaign for ratification involving massive numbers of supporters who were educated and politicized through the process. Many individual pieces of legislation and gains were achieved in the wake of these efforts. After an extension of the deadline, the time limit for ratification expired in 1982.
It is currently re-introduced in the U.S. Congress in the House by Carolyn Maloney as H.J.Res. 69 and now has 183 co-sponsors and in the Senate by Robert Menendez with 15 co-sponsors. (link to co-sponsors)
A newly introduced ERA will need to be passed by 2/3 of Congress and then sent to the states for ¾ or 38 of the states to ratify it to become part of the Constitution.
On Mar. 8, 2011, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced H.J.Res. 47, which would remove the ERA’s ratification deadline and make it part of the Constitution when three more states ratify. The Senate companion bill, S.J.Res. 39, was introduced on Mar. 22, 2012 by Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD).
Supporters in several of the unratified states are working for passage of the ERA in three of the remaining 15 states. If this strategy is successful, it would probably face a court challenge that would go to the U.S. Supreme Court to determine the validity of the ratification of the amendment.
Wording has been sought to clarify the meaning of the Amendment and make it more simple, clear, concise, inclusive, and effective. Some have looked at the original language penned by Alice Paul. Another example is:
“Women and men shall have equality of rights, privileges and liberties throughout the U.S. and in every place and entity subject to its jurisdiction.”