Courts

Virginia, Nevada, and Illinois Will Appeal Ruling on ERA

On Monday, Virginia, Nevada, and Illinois filed notice that they will appeal a federal judge’s ruling that the states’ votes to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment were too late.

Virginia led the appeal, with the other states joining. “Throughout the years, efforts to have the Equal Rights Amendment added to the Constitution have met with many impediments, but every single time this movement has overcome those hurdles and come out the other side stronger than ever,” said Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. 

The states argued that because the deadline placed on the ERA was put in the amendment’s preamble, not in its actual text that the states voted on, it is non-binding. In March, US District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Rudolph Contreras ruled that Virginia’s vote came after the deadline, which “is just as effective as one in the text of a proposed amendment.”

The ERA was originally proposed in 1972, and it passed in both houses with overwhelming support, and was endorsed by President Nixon. The Amendment is only one sentence: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.”

In March, the US House passed a resolution to remove the deadline on ratification. That resolution has bipartisan support, with sponsors Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Ben Cardin in the Senate and Representatives Jackie Speier and Tom Reed in the House. 

President Biden praised the House’s action, stating that it was “long past time that we enshrine the principle of gender equality in our Constitution.

Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal and Executive Director Kathy Spillar stated, “Our message is simple: We will not give up our dream to live in a world without violence and with full equality under the law.”

Sources: NBC News 5/3/21; The Hill 5/4/21; NBC News 3/17/21; Ms. 4/6/21