Rep. Baldwin Introduces Bill to Speed Up Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment
On Tuesday, International Women’s Day, Wisconsin Representative Tammy Baldwin (D) introduced legislation designed to speed up the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).
The ERA is designed to explicitly prevent discrimination on the basis of sex. Congress passed the Amendment in 1972. Ratification by 38 states was required for the Amendment to become law, but the legislation fell three states short by the extended deadline of 1982.
However, because the deadline for ratification had already been extended from seven to ten years, this suggests Congress has the power to once again extend the deadline. Furthermore, Baldwin points to the 27th Amendment which deals with matters of congressional pay. It was ratified in 1992, 203 years after its initial submission.
The legislation that Baldwin has now introduced would specifically remove the deadline for ERA ratification and would state that upon ratification by three further states, the Amendment would be added to the Constitution.
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“The ERA is intended to ensure equality for women and men in all areas of society,” said Baldwin. “It is an immediate and decisive remedy to end sex discrimination in federal and state laws and provides a clear benchmark for judicial interpretation. Achieving equality and justice for all in the United States is fundamental to our democratic principles, economic recovery, and continued leadership around the world. The intent of my resolution is simple: a path to equality for all Americans,” Baldwin said.
“With women comprising more than 50% of the workforce and serving this country on the fronts of two wars, it is time to end the discrimination based on sex that women still face in the United States,” said Jean Landweber, Wisconsin ERA Chair, United 4Equality. “I am proud of my Representative, Tammy Baldwin, for introducing this legislation to remove the arbitrary time limit that was imposed in1972 for ratification of the ERA. The time is right to achieve equality of rights by finishing what the brave women of the ’70s started,” Landweber said.
The 15 states still to ratify the bill include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia.
Notable of those is perhaps Virginia. The Virginia state Senate passed a resolution (SJ357) to ratify the ERA in February of 2011 but the House of Delegates companion bill (HJ640) was twice tabled in subcommittee.
The need for the ERA is perhaps best expressed by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s recent statement saying that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution does not prevent sex discrimination and that a belief otherwise is a “modern invention.” While many would disagree with Scalia, this statement does “serve as an important reminder about the Court’s bitter divide on the issue of the scope of the 14th Amendment” as fellow blogger Jessica Pieklo wrote while commenting on Scalia’s argument.
For more Care2 coverage of International Women’s Day, click here.