By Aryana Goodarzi
This March 8th, International Women’s Day, let’s talk about these last few months in women’s rights.
On January 27th, the day the ERA officially became law, Biden asked Congress for a resolution officially stating the constitutionality of the ERA. That same Thursday, House Democrats Jackie Speier and Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney brought a resolution to the House (S Res 891). President Biden also had the Department of Justice analyze (though not overturn) the Office of Legal Counsel opinion from Trump’s Administration.
On February 8th, 2022, Senators Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) wrote a letter to the U.S. Archivist, seeking that he does not officialize the Equal Rights Amendment. According to Article V of the Constitution, for the Equal Rights Amendment to be amended into the Constitution, it must get through 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). Since Article V does not demand a timeline, as soon as those steps are done, the amendment should become part of the Constitution. Anything else is a formality.
On Friday, February 11th, West Virginia voted to sunset their ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment after stating that their ratification vote has not been applicable since 1979. 75 seconds is all it took for the West Virginia Senate to make this statement on women.
On Saturday, February 19th, the new Attorney General of Virginia, Jason Miyares, pulled out of the appeal against the U.S. Archivist, which tells him to make the Equal Rights Amendment the law.
This last Friday night, March 4th, the Department of Justice filed a brief on behalf of the Archivist to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The brief states that there is no basis for states (State of Illinois, et al., v. David Ferriero) to sue the Archivist. However, the constitutionality of the ERA is still not resolved.
The sexism could not be louder. However, we are talking back!
Throughout the United States, states are working on legislation to recognize the validity of the Equal Rights Amendment, ratify the ERA, or create a state-level ERA.
Finally, State Legislative Research Units are being asked through their state statutes to make note of any sexed or gendered wording such that steps can be taken to ensure the applicability of the ERA. North Carolina found that edits are necessary 45,000 out of 47,000 pages, Illinois’s is 1,872 pages, and Arizona’s is 652 pages. Lawyers are said to have not expected laws to be this gendered, further confirming the need for the ERA to those who say women and men are already equal. The law itself, and studies of the law, say otherwise.
On March 17th, 2021, the House passed resolution H.J. Res 17., introduced by Rep. Speier and Rep. Reed. However, the Senate version, S.J. Res. 1, has not yet been taken up by the Senate for a vote.
Today, U.S. Representative Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14), Co-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, signed a bipartisan letter, led by Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney and Representative Jackie Speier, asking Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to schedule a vote on the Senate floor on the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) this month.
Women’s rights are still being legislated, which shows just how much the ERA is really needed.
Ways to take action: