ERA Coalition, Advocates for Women’s Equality File Amicus Brief in Case to Force Recognition of Equal Right Amendment

Advocates File Amicus Brief in Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in Nevada, Illinois, Virginia State Attorneys General Case to Force Archivist to Publish ERA

Washington, DC –– Today, the ERA Coalition and advocates representing 52 organizations filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in the case filed by the Attorneys General of the last three states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment –– Nevada, Illinois, and Virginia –– to force U.S. Archivist David S. Ferriero to publish the ERA to the U.S. Constitution. The Court previously dismissed the case for supposed lack of jurisdiction. 

“The ERA Coalition is proud to sign on to the amicus brief in support of the lawsuit the Attorneys General of Illinois, Nevada, and Virginia have filed. We need to remedy the systemic causes of sex inequality in this country, and you don’t get more systemic than the Constitution. This is where it all begins, and the Equal Rights Amendment can help end it,” said ERA Coalition and Fund for Women’s Equality President and CEO Carol Jenkins. “There is no time limit on equality. Supporters of the ERA have fulfilled all the requirements set forth for an amendment in the Constitution so the time is now to publish the 28th amendment.”

“Publication by the Archivist is an important step forward. To be sure, the legal effect of an amendment does not depend on any action by the Executive Branch, which has no role to play under Article V.  But the Archivist’s current refusal to publish the ERA is itself an inappropriate intrusion of the Executive Branch into the ratification process,” writes the ERA Coalition and advocates in the amicus brief. “One of the practical consequences of that refusal is its impact on the ongoing efforts by activists to press for revision of state statutes that continue to discriminate on the basis of sex. Although some States may be willing to make those revisions even without federal recognition of the ERA, others will not. In that respect—among others—the district court was wrong to assume that publication by the Archivist will make no difference.”

“The advocates represented in this brief have an important story to tell, and their perspective should inform the Court’s consideration of the issues.  Their long-standing commitment to equality and persistence in the fight demonstrate why it is so important to respect the plain language of Article V, which leaves no room for arbitrary time limits on ratification,” said Linda Coberly, Chair of the Appellate & Critical Motions Practice at Winston & Strawn and lead counsel on the brief.

To read the full amicus brief, click here.

“This amazing amicus brief reviews the nearly 100 years of feminist struggle for the ERA as well as its need, relevance, and popularity today. It clearly makes a strong case that the ERA has met the requirements for adoption and should be certified and published in the Constitution by the National Archivist,” said Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal. “The vast, diverse array of women’s rights, civil rights, social justice, professional, and equality groups representing millions of people throughout the nation signing onto the brief also speaks volumes for the ERA’s long overdue need.”

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. 

“History has demonstrated that the Equal Rights Amendment is as necessary now as it was when it was passed by Congress 50 years ago. We can no longer allow discrimination against women to continue because of an arbitrary deadline on Constitutional Equality. We honor the generations of activists who have valiantly fought to get the ERA enshrined in the Constitution and will continue following in their footsteps to protect future generations of women by ensuring they finally have explicit protections under our nation’s highest law,” said Christian Nunes, President of the National Organization for Women (NOW).

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, yet the Archivist has not yet published it. January 27, 2022, the two year anniversary of Virginia’s ratification, is the date that the ERA should be in effect across the country.

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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.

www.eracoalition.org | www.fundforwomensequality.org

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