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ERA Deadline Removal Introduced in Senate

By Bernadette Cahill

March 23, 2012. A measure that would remove the deadline from the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was introduced yesterday (March 22, 2012) in the U.S. Senate – the fortieth anniversary of the 1972 passage of the original ERA resolution in the Senate. The resolution, S.J. Resolution 39, is a companion to H.J. Resolution 47 introduced in March 2011.

Senators Kay Hagan and Richard Burr of North Carolina have yet to announce any decisions on whether to co-sponsor the resolution.

The measure was read twice and referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. If enacted, the resolutions would clear the way for full ratification of the ERA with only three more states. Thirty-five states ratified the amendment in the 1970s and 38 are required for the ERA to become part of the U.S. Constitution as the 28th Amendment.

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.

Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced the measure. U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), and Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.)  are original co-sponsors. Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) introduced H.J. Res. 47 in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Women have made tremendous advances in this country, but America still has not realized its promise of equal protection under the law for men and women,” said Senator Cardin.  “Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment would at last make equality for women explicitly clear in our Constitution. We’re only three states short of victory and cannot afford to give up the fight on the 40th anniversary of the Senate’s passage of the ERA. An arbitrary deadline for state ratification of the ERA should not stand in the way of equal rights for our mothers, wives and daughters.” 

When Congress passed the ERA in 1972, it provided that the measure had to be ratified within seven years. This deadline was later extended to ten years by a joint resolution enacted by Congress, but ultimately only 35 out of 38 states had ratified the ERA when the deadline expired in 1982.

The potential for revival of the long-moribund ERA came about when the 27th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting immediate Congressional pay raises was ratified after 203 years in the 1990s. The Constitution contains no time limits for ratification of constitutional amendments.

United 4 Equality of Washington, D.C. devised the deadline-removal strategy. The National Council of Women’s Organizations and numerous women’s groups have endorsed it. For further information click to: http://www.united4equality.com. In North Carolina, click to: http://www.era-nc.org.