WASHINGTON D.C. — (01-08-20) — On Monday, the DOJ’s office of legal counsel says that the Equal Rights Amendment is Dead.
“Congress has constitutional authority to impose a deadline for ratifying a proposed constitutional amendment,” the DOJ opinion stated. “It exercised this authority when proposing the Equal Rights Amendment and, because three-fourths of the state legislatures did not ratify before the deadline that Congress imposed, the Equal Rights Amendment has failed of adoption and is no longer pending before the States.”
First proposed in Congress in 1923 and passed in 1972, the ERA sought to ensure equal protection of men and women under federal law. The text of the amendment reads:
Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.
House Democrats in November passed a Resolution in November to remove the deadline. With that being said, the DOJ’s OLC says that the initial deadline was enforceable and that Congress does not have the power to change the deadline, effectively rendering the ERA dead.
“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 OLC wrote.
“Accordingly, 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.”
Once again the Trump administration has ignited immediate backlash from supporters of the amendment who filed this week, a federal lawsuit in Massachusetts arguing and pointing out, the 27th Amendment, first written in 1789, was not adopted until more than 200 years later.
Proponents of the ERA have argued that the congressionally-imposed deadline is not binding because it was not included in the text of the amendment.
Article by: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer
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