Today, as the U.S. Constitution is being read aloud on the floor of the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Senator Robert Menendez, chief sponsors of the Equal Rights Amendment, called a press conference together with Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Co-Chair of the House Women’s Caucus and women’s rights leaders to draw attention to the absence of the Equal Rights Amendment. Congresswoman Maloney pointed out that the press conference was even more important because Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia recently commented that the U.S. Constitution does not protect women from sex discrimination.
Eleanor Smeal, Feminist Majority President, Terry O’Neill, NOW President, Susan Scanlon, Chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, Karen J. See, President, Coalition of Labor Union Women and Lulu Flores, President of the National Women’s Political Caucus also spoke at the conference.
Every speaker cited the recent interview of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in the California Lawyer in which Scalia stated that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees equal justice under the law for all persons does not prohibit sex discrimination under the laws of the United States or its states.
Smeal added that Scalia is frequently viewed as the intellectual light of the conservative wing of the Supreme Court which can all too often gain a majority vote of the Justices. “All modern Constitutions adopted since WWII have explicitly included provisions guaranteeing women equal rights. The U.S. is lagging behind in explicitly guaranteeing equal rights for women and prohibition of sex discrimination,” Smeal pointed out.
“We are way past due for a constitutional amendment explicitly acknowledging women’s rights in the United States, said Terry O’Neill. “Nothing less will do, as long as sexists like Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia feel completely justified interpreting women’s rights as unprotected in the U.S. Constitution.”