The Equal Rights Amendment Still Hasn’t Been Ratified
The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) has yet to be ratified despite being introduced in 1923 and passed by Congress on March 22, 1972. In order to become a constitutional amendment only one more state needs to ratify the ERA.
Or, more specifically, the amendment, after passing a two-thirds majority in the house and senate in 1972 the ERA was sent to the states to be ratified by state legislatures.
To become a constitutional Amendment it needs 38 states of 50 states (3/4ths of states) to ratify it according to Article V of the Constitution.
35 states approved the amendment by 1977, but 15 states (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia) failed to ratify the amendment before the extended deadline of June 30, 1982.
Since then 2 additional states (Nevada in 2017 and Illinois in 2018) have ratified it, now it only needs 1 more state to do so.
With that said, 5 states (Nebraska, Tennessee, Idaho, Kentucky, and South Dakota) have claimed to rescind or withdraw their ratification, but where the Constitution clearly allows for ratification, it does not explicitly allow ratification to be rescinded.
Forty years later, the ERA is still not a part of the Constitution.
What is the Equal rights Amendment?
The Equal Rights Amendment guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex. In other words it explicitly says that the law can’t discriminate based on sex.
The Amendment reads:
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.
Why Hasn’t the Amendment Been Ratified?
The simplest answer is that it still lacks ratification of 3/4ths of states.
The political answer is because the amendment is contested on two levels.
- it is contested by supporters of women’s rights who worry that it would take away legal protections granted specifically to women (if the law can’t discriminate by sex, it can’t favor women).
- it is contested by the conservative right, often the religious right, in the spirit of traditionalism (but often using variations of the above argument).
Does the Expiration Date Impact The Ability to Ratify The ERA?
While Congress did put a time limit, the Constitution doesn’t explicitly say that Congress can put time limits on proposed Amendments. Thus there is debate if the Amendment can have a time limit.
The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) Explained.