Earlier this week, the Virginia state legislature finalized the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment — and now, state attorneys general want the U.S. Constitution to reflect that fact.
Virginia became the 38th state to pass the ERA on Monday, effectively passing the threshold needed to pass the gender-equality Constitutional amendment. But there’s some legal roadblocks preventing it from being officially adopted, CNN reported.
First, some states that initially passed the ERA have expressed a desire to rescind their doing so. It’s unclear whether a state can make such a move, and whether it should be respected during the period of time that other states are considering the measure.
Second, when Congress passed the resolution onto the states many decades ago, it placed a time restraint on when it wanted the ERA passed by. That timeframe was extended, but the ERA still wasn’t passed in the time allotted by Congress.
Attorneys general from three states — Nevada, Illinois, and Virginia — are suing in federal court because they don’t believe those issues matter. On the second issue, for example, the AGs point out that the deadline wasn’t expressed in the amendment itself, only in the resolution pushing it toward the states for their considerations of passing it.
The Commonwealth of Virginia just became the 38th and final state needed to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment as the 28th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America.#VAratifiedERA pic.twitter.com/mmxa53AC7Q
— Danica Roem (@pwcdanica) January 27, 2020
Congress cannot, they further argue, place such time restraints on amendments to begin with, according to their legal briefing:
“[The Constitution] does not empower Congress to dictate when a State may consider — much less ultimately ratify — a proposed amendment. The Constitution grants Congress two specific powers regarding amendment: (1) to “propose Amendments to this Constitution”; and (2) to designate whether the “Mode of Ratification” will be through state legislatures or via conventions.”
Indeed, the 27th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed even though it was initially proposed more than 200 years prior to attaining the necessary three-fourths number of states to ratify it.
The Equal Rights Amendment would disallow discrimination based on gender. “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex,” the amendment reads, in part.
“The women of this country are entitled to their rightful place in the Constitution,” the complaint from the AGs stated. “This Court should compel the Archivist to carry out his statutory duty of recognizing the complete and final adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment.”