Nevada, Illinois, Virginia State Attorneys General File Opening Brief in Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in Case to Force Archivist to Publish ERA
Washington, DC –– Today, the Attorneys General of the last three states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment –– Nevada, Illinois, and Virginia –– filed an opening brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in their case to force U.S. Archivist David S. Ferriero to publish the ERA to the U.S. Constitution after the Court previously dismissed the case for supposed lack of jurisdiction. The Equal Rights Amendment was passed by Congress in 1972, and Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the amendment in 2020, thus fulfilling all constitutional requirements set forth in Article V.
“We are grateful to the Attorneys General for driving this litigation forward. The ERA has met all the constitutional requirements for an amendment, and the Archivist has a duty to publish it, providing official notice to all 50 States that the ERA is now the 28th Amendment to the Constitution,” said ERA Coalition and Fund for Women’s Equality President and CEO Carol Jenkins. “There can be no time limit on equality.”
“Allowing this decision to stand would do much more than allow an unelected executive branch official to disregard his statutory duty,” writes Attorneys General Aaron Ford of Nevada, Kwame Raoul of Illinois, and Mark Herring of Virginia in the opening brief. “It would obstruct Plaintiff-States’ sovereign prerogative to ratify amendments that bring our foundational document in line with our Nation’s values. And it would tell the women of America that, after 234 years, they must wait even longer for equal treatment under the Constitution. The district court’s decision should be reversed.”
On January 6, 2020, the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), under the previous administration, issued a deeply flawed opinion saying the Equal Rights Amendment can no longer be ratified because the arbitrary deadline set by Congress had passed. The deadline, which Congress placed in the preamble of its resolution rather than in the text of the amendment itself, is not part of the constitutional requirements set forth in Article V. The U.S. Archivist has not yet published the ERA, citing the OLC’s opinion.
“We’re proud to support the States’ important lawsuit. This is the first time the Archivist has ever refused to comply with his statutory duty to publish an amendment that has met all constitutional requirements,” said ERA Coalition Legal Task Force Chair Linda Coberly. “It’s time to recognize the ERA as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution.”
On January 10, 2022, coalition advocacy partners will file an amicus brief supporting the States’ case.
The ERA Coalition was founded in 2014 to bring concerted, organized action to the effort to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. The ERA Coalition has a sister organization, the Fund for Women’s Equality, which promotes public education and outreach on the need for constitutional equality. Comprised of nearly 200 organizations across the country, the Coalition provides education and advocacy on Constitutional Equality.
While the effort to amend the constitution to include sex equality began nearly a century ago, our renewed efforts are centered on Black, Indigenous and Women of Color, gender-nonconforming and transgender women and girls, and nonbinary people– those who are most impacted by systemic inequities.