By Aryana Goodarzi
Two years ago this January 27th, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. What does this mean exactly? That we should have had equal rights to that of men two years ago.
It was not until the 19th amendment, which gave (white) women the right to vote, that the word “sex” was included in the Constitution. Before then, it was only “man,” and it was only under the right to vote that women were given rights equal to that of men. The words “woman” and “sex” are nowhere else in the Constitution, which gives no existence to us as people. Equality under the law cannot apply to women if women are not defined as a person, which said laws apply to. In doing so, equal rights has become a question, not of whether they should exist but of who gets to have them.
While the Constitution doesn’t condone discrimination on the basis of “sex,” is not enough given that the only sex written into the Constitution is in the form of “he” or “man.”
According to Article V of the Constitution, in order to add an amendment to the Constitution, it must be passed by both houses of Congress (done in March 1972), and it is necessary that 38 of the 50 states ratify it (done as of January 2020). As soon as this is done, the amendment should become part of the Constitution. In effect, it means that women should have been written into the Constitution two years ago.
However, the U.S. Archivist will not formally publish the Equal Rights Amendment, which would make it an official amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Under Article V, the Executive branch does not have the power in amending the Constitution. Ferriero is deferring to an opinion memo on the ERA from President Trump’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC).
Because of this, the ERA Coalition, along with almost 50 other equality groups, have filed an amicus brief in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals case brought by the Attorneys General of Nevada, Illinois, and Virginia to force Ferriero to publish the Equal Rights Amendment. An amicus brief is filed when it is thought that the information in the brief will be helpful to the court’s interpretation. See full amicus brief.
It is my hope to not be writing this again come 2023.