State Watch

States sue to demand ratification of Equal Rights Amendment

The attorneys general of Illinois, Virginia and Nevada filed a lawsuit Thursday demanding the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).

The lawsuit, filed against the archivist of the United States in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, said the ERA should be ratified after Virginia became the 38th state to approve it earlier this month, despite the Justice Department issuing guidance that says the deadline for ratification has long since passed.

The vote in Richmond in support of the ERA crossed the threshold necessary for it to be added to the U.S. Constitution and set the stage for a constitutional convention.

“At that moment, the process set forth in Article V of the U.S. Constitution was complete,” the lawsuit reads.

“After generations of effort, the women of this country are entitled to their rightful place in the Constitution. This Court should compel the Archivist to carry out his statutory duty of recognizing the complete and final adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment.”

The ERA would add language to the Constitution ensuring 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.” It would also grant Congress the power to enforce the amendment.

Opponents of the ERA have promised to fight it in court, citing a 1982 ratification deadline set by Congress. The Justice Department issued an opinion earlier this month saying the ERA is no longer legally pending before the states because the deadline has passed. 

The National Archives and Records Administration, which oversees the ratification of constitutional amendments, said it would abide by that opinion.

Women’s rights advocates have led the nationwide effort for the amendment’s ratification, arguing it will protect women from discrimination and gender-based violence. 

“For nearly 150 years, the Constitution did not acknowledge the existence of women. Now, 231 years since our country was founded and on the centennial anniversary of the nineteenth amendment, the American people have shown that they are as committed as ever to true equality by adopting the Equal Rights Amendment,” said Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D).

“Women have always been endowed with equal rights, even though our country has wrongly failed to recognize them,” added Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford (D). “The gravity of this movement should not be underplayed — today we are advocating for women’s rights here in Nevada and all over the country, and we are taking an essential stride towards inclusivity.”

Tags Equal Rights Amendment ERA Illinois Nevada Virginia Women's rights

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