Is there liberty and justice for all? Or the eternal question…will the Equal Rights Amendment ever be ratified?

ERA means the Equal Rights Amendment.

There is no deadline for equal human rights. That’s what increasing numbers of people are saying. The ERA, affirming the equal application of the Constitution to all persons regardless of their sex, was written in 1923 by Alice Paul, suffragist activist and founder of the National Woman’s Party. After women’s right to vote was guaranteed by the 19th Amendment in 1920, she proposed the ERA as the next step in confirming “equal justice under law” for all citizens.

The ERA was introduced into every Congress between 1923 and 1972, when it was passed and sent to the states for ratification. The Equal Rights Amendment extends the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection” clause to effectively end sex discrimination under law. If you’ve ever been confused about the ERA or felt overwhelmed abut the ratification process, here’s a crash course.

TEXT OF ERA

  • 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.

ERA HISTORY:

The Equal Rights Amendment was introduced in Congress in 1923. Fifty years later in 1972, the U.S. Congress chose to impose a seven-year deadline for state ratifications; this deadline ended in 1982. A total of 38 states were needed and 35 states ratified.  Only three states fell short of the 1982 deadline. And so the ERA has been languishing.  Legal analysis sponsored by the ERA Summit at the University of Richmond argued that the ERA’s deadline is not permanent and could be extended again or removed altogether. In 2001, the ERA Campaign Network commissioned a survey from the Opinion Research Corporation and found that 96 percent of Americans believed “male and female citizens should have equal rights,” with 88 percent of those polled believing that equal rights should be written into the Constitution.

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