Legal opinion differs on this unprecedented issue. Proponents of the ERA argue that the time limit imposed by the 1972 Congress was not in the text of the amendment - that it was a procedural effort to prevent its ratification and can be removed by a current Congress. On March 17, 2021, the U.S. House voted to do just that - to remove the time limit. The time limit question will now go to the Senate, where a similar bill SJ Res 1 awaits consideration. Opponents of the ERA argue that the time limit is sacrosanct (however lacking legal precedent). Since sex discrimination is still a 'contemporaneous' issue and there is a growing determination among Americans (women in particular) to establish a constitutional principle that clearly affirms legal equality between the sexes - the ERA has momentum building.
Another obstacle to full ratification is the attempted reversal of ratification in the 1970's by five states - Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, South Dakota and Tennessee. Although there is no legal precedent for rescission of amendment ratification, and no provision made for it in the Constitution, court battles are likely to follow any attempt to complete ratification.
There are two approaches to adding the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The ' Lift the Time Limit' approach considers the ratification process to be halted on a procedural issue, the initial time limit placed on ratification during the 1972 Congress. There is substantial legal opinion that the amendment is valid if the present Congress agrees to lift the time limit. The Lift the Time Limit bill, HJ Res 17 in the House just passed. It will next be taken up in the Senate.
As a parallel effort, a 'Begin Anew' approach starts the entire amendment process again. Bills to do that have been proposed in the House and Senate. They await results of the votes on the time limit before becoming active.
It is inevitable that both the Time Limit issue and the Attempted Rescissions issue will end up in court. There are legal opinions on both sides - but what appears to motivate each side is the differing idea of equality, not the mechanics of the amendment process.
Our current President and Vice President are outspoken proponents of women's rights and the ERA. They are actively building policies that support women but their policies and laws will be undone, as they have in the past, without the constitutional footing of the ERA. Meanwhile women are bearing an unfair burden of Covid-19 and its many resulting economic and social issues.
We can only demand what is fair and just in a true democracy: full legal equality, regardless of sex.
The U.S. House PASSED HJ Res 17 to lift the time limit on ratification of the ERA on March 17, 2021. Maine's Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden voted FOR the amendment.
In the U.S. Senate:
S.J. Res 1 is a Resolution that would remove the time limit for ratification of the ERA by the States. Co-sponsors: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D). It is unclear whether the Senate rules will require a simple majority or a 60-vote majority for passage.
Senator Angus King and Senator Susan Collins are both ERA supporters.
The federal Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was written and first proposed to Congress.
ERA is passed by Congress, sent to states for ratification with 1982 deadline.
Maine ratifies Federal ERA.
Ratification deadline expires with only 35 of necessary 38 states
Nevada, Illinois, and Virginia ratify ERA, despite time limit.
House of Representatives votes to remove ratification time limit.
What needs to happen for the ERA to become an amendment to the U.S. Constitution?
ERA bills in the 117th U.S. Congress
Maine is the first state
with 100% participation from its U.S. Congressional delegation
in support of the bills that will revive
the federal Equal Rights Amendment!
Rep. Jared Golden, Rep. Chellie Pingree, Governor Janet Mills, Sen. Susan Collins and Senator Angus King - our full Maine U.S. delegation.
Banner image courtesy of Ms. Magazine