CV NEWS FEED // The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday, February 28, at the behest of Democratic lawmakers demanding ratification of the 1971 Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).
A bicameral resolution sponsored by, among others, Sens. Dick Durbin, D-IL and Mazie Hirono, D-HI, removes the 1982 deadline for ratification and full adoption of the ERA into the United States Constitution.
“There’s a lot of convoluted history, but really all it boils down to is this: This is the most far-fetched loophole yet in Democratic efforts to reimpose abortion-on-demand after the fall of Roe v. Wade,” remarked CatholicVote Director of Governmental Affairs Tom McClusky.
Critics also warn that the language of the ERA plays into the hands of the current Democratic agenda of expanding traditional protections against sex-discrimination to include “gender” and “sexual orientation” – effectively outlawing dissent against LGBTQ ideology.
Section 1 of the ERA states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” Proponents argue that the amendment is necessary as a “fundamental constitutional remedy against sex discrimination.”
However, Rep. Ayana Pressley’s, D-MA office stated in a press release: “As the 28th Amendment, the ERA would serve as a new tool—for Congress, for federal agencies, and in the courts—to advance equality in the fields of workforce and pay, pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment and violence, reproductive autonomy, and protections for LGBTQ+ individuals.”
In 1971, “sex” was universally understood to mean “biological sex” under the law. The Biden administration and multiple federal courts have recently redefined “sex” more broadly to include sexual orientation and fluid gender identity.
“In fact, the ERA’s language would create a sex-neutral society,” warned McClusky. “The freedoms that only women can enjoy will be stripped away.”
McClusky pointed to multiple examples of how the ERA would in fact erase many of the strides made by women for equal rights in public life. “Private rooms such as bathrooms and nursing rooms would be forced open to men,” he said. “Our daughters would be forced out of sports but drafted into military combat situations.”
Other state programs intended to serve women and threatened by the ERA include Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), women’s shelters that take state funding, and prisons.
Most alarmingly, in McClusky’s view, there is a passage in the ERA that “would enshrine abortion into the Constitution and allow for full taxpayer funding of abortion.”
“We have already seen cases in New Mexico and Connecticut where the state ERA upheld this action (N.M. Right to Choose/NARAL v. Johnson and Doe v. Maher),” he warned. “Abortion activists are ready to usher in a new era of extreme abortion policies under the passage of the ERA.”
The ERA passed Congress and was sent to the states for approval in 1972. The Constitution requires proposed amendments to be ratified by 38 states, and a seven-year time limit was set for that number of states to ratify the ERA. The amendment garnered only 35 states by the end of that time limit in 1979.
An extension was signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, but no new states approved the amendment between then and its revised expiration date in 1982.
The Department of Justice issued an opinion in January 2020 to clarify that despite efforts being made across the country to ratify the 1972 Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), the time period for ratification had expired and was therefore no longer pending before the states.
The opinion stated:
Should Congress now “deem [the ERA] necessary,” U.S. Const. art. V, the only constitutional path for amendment would be for two-thirds of both Houses (or a convention sought by two thirds of the state legislatures) to propose the amendment once more and restart the ratification process among the States, consistent with Article V of the Constitution.
In early February, Sen. Rob Portman, R-OH, led a group of Senate Republicans in issuing a statement warning the national archivist not to certify the ERA until Congress had ruled on its status.
“Placing this language in the Constitution furthers us from equality,” commented CatholicVote President Brian Burch. “Our First Amendment rights would be infringed upon. Male-only clergy, marriage beliefs, and candid conversations about these matters would be policed by the whims of the federal government.”