The ERA from the 1970s is Back! If Virginia Approves, Could be 28th Amendment

For anyone who remembers the 1970s, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was part of the disco decade.  The legislative measure failed to gather enough support among the states to become the law of the land, but that might be about to change.

With a Democratic majority in the legislature and a Democrat in the Governor’s mansion, Virginia could become the 38th state to pass the ERA, which is the threshold required for Congress to make the amendment part of the Constitution.

But is it too late?  Opponents think so, claiming the time for passing the ERA has long since passed.

Last week, the Trump administration’s Justice Department issued a legal opinion saying the process would have to begin anew. The National Archives and Records Administration, which has a role in certifying ratification, said it would abide by the Justice Department’s guidance.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said in a statement:

“I am preparing to take any steps necessary to ensure that Virginia is recognized as the 38th ratifying state, that the will of Virginians is carried out, and that the ERA is added to our Constitution, as it should be.”

The amendment states in part: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.”

The House and Senate passed the measure in 1972, but also set a seven-year deadline for the states to get it across the finish line.  The deadline was later extended from 1979 to 1982.

Still, states have been going back to it.  Nevada passed it in 2017 and Illinois in 2018.

The Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee voted in November to approve a measure that would retroactively remove the ratification deadline, but the measure has not advanced in Congress since then.


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