The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote Thursday on a resolution, H.J.Res.79, to remove the June 30, 1982 deadline for state legislatures to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Obviously, the deadline has expired, but this isn’t preventing members of Congress, primarily Democrats, from attempting to remove the deadline and advance pro-abortion and pro-transgender rights enshrined in the ERA.
Pro-abortion activist group NARAL Pro-Choice America supports the ERA resolution stating, “With its ratification, the ERA would reinforce the constitutional right to abortion by clarifying that the sexes have equal rights, which would require judges to strike down anti-abortion laws because they violate both the constitutional right to privacy and sexual equality.”
The ERA was a proposed constitutional amendment introduced and passed by the House (1971) and the Senate (1972). Originally, the ERA would have to be ratified by 38 state legislatures prior to the original deadline of March 22, 1979. But proponents of the ERA realized it would not be ratified by the necessary 38 state legislatures by that deadline.
Therefore, pro-ERA advocates pressured Congress in 1978 to extend the ratification deadline to June 30, 1982. Now, the House is wanting to pass H.J.Res.79 to eliminate the deadline.
If the House passes the resolution, it will face a near certain death in the Senate. That’s not the only hurdle congressional Democrats are facing in their attempt to remove the current 1982 deadline. First, there’s the legal challenge. The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Legal Counsel issued the following opinion on January 6, 2020:
The ERA Resolution has expired and is no longer pending before the States. Even if one or more state legislatures were to ratify the 1972 proposal, that action would not complete the ratification of the amendment, and the ERA’s adoption could not be certified under 1 U.S.C. § 106b. In addition, we conclude that when Congress uses a proposing clause to impose a deadline on the States’ ratification of a proposed constitutional amendment, that deadline is binding and Congress may not revive the proposal after the deadline’s expiration.
The other challenge would be in the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal on the court and a supporter of the ERA, recently indicated the clock has run out on ratifying the ERA. In reference to the state of Virginia’s recent vote to ratify the ERA, Ginsburg said, “I would like to see a new beginning. I’d like it to start over. There’s too much controversy about late comers.” She then referred to Virginia’s move coming “long after the deadline passed.” Justice Ginsburg’s comments follow and bolster the DOJ opinion against changing the ERA deadline.
Regardless of the hurdles the ERA will face, it’s important you contact and urge your representative to vote against removing the deadline for ratifying the ERA.