Congress in Capitol

House Passes Resolution to Remove ERA Deadline

This week the House passed a joint resolution that will remove a deadline for states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. The news follows a recent federal court ruling that said the deadline expired for the ERA a long time ago.

Supporters of the ERA claimed that the court ruling signaled that it was now up to Congress to validate their argument that the ERA has already been ratified and should soon be published as the Constitution’s 28th Amendment.

However, some opponents have said the move is nothing but a publicity stunt, claiming Congress are not able to retroactively change its imposed deadline decades after expiration.

The House voted in favor of the ERA by 222-204, with four Republicans joining Democrats to approve the resolution that was brought forward by Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier and Republican Rep. Tom Reed.

The Senate will now vote on the resolution which faces a tougher path, given the chamber’s 50-50 partisan split.

“Thank you very much Congresswoman Speier for your relentless leadership on this important issue to our country. That is because as you say, when women succeed America succeeds, so this is about our entire country,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said as members of the Democratic Women’s Caucus held a press conference on March 17 to discuss the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).

“This justice of the Supreme Court not known to be friendly to some of our issues but to be clear about the constitution, it does not forbid discrimination against women, it does not. So that’s why it’s an honor to be with Jackie Speier and with Carolyn Maloney who for 25 years has been fighting this fight. Jackie fighting this fight on removing that time barrier. Thank you to the chairman of the judiciary committee for being here for the ERA.”

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Next week the House will also vote to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, a landmark bill once championed by President Joe Biden that expired during Trump’s tenure.

The vote, which takes place during Women’s History Month, is being seen by some as just a symbolic step to reaffirm commitment from supporters to the ERA, which many have fought for decades to add to the Constitution.

The House approved the same resolution last session but many of the same legal questions surrounding the ERA remain as yet unanswered.

The Democratic-led House had approved the resolution largely on a party-line vote during the last session of Congress.

National Right to Life’s senior policy adviser Douglas Johnson maintains that the idea that the ERA is close to ratification is ‘political theater’ and that ‘legally, it is not a close call’.

“The Constitution does not empower Congress to employ time travel to resuscitate a 42-year-dead amendment,” Johnson told CNN, adding that the upcoming votes in Congress are part of a “political-pressure campaign to intimidate the federal courts into permitting them to air-drop the long-expired ERA into the Constitution.”

Johnson also went on to criticize Congress for trying to push the resolution using what he referred to as a “truncated process.” He argued that the resolution’s sponsors contradict themselves by arguing that they can get this passed with a simple majority but cite Article V, which requires an amendment get two-thirds passage, as to what gives Congress the constitutional authority to do so.

Speier’s office responded to Johnson’s remarks that the two-thirds vote under Article V is “only necessary for passing new amendments for ratification to the states, not for changing or removing the deadline” and “that when Congress extended the deadline in 1979, it did so with a simple majority vote.”

Johnson argued back that whether by majority or two-thirds, “Congress lacks power to reach out and amend a constitutional amendment that it has already submitted to the states — that would be a bait-and-switch.”

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“When it was introduced in 1921, it read men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction. Imagine the courage of the people putting that forth. Imagine the courage of the suffragist working to get the right to vote, but also for equality in our country,” Pelosi continued at the press conference.

“And that’s why we wear white today in their honor, we are standing on their shoulders and we will continue the fight as others stand on our shoulders. When they do, they will be doing so with the already passed Equal Rights Amendment to our constitution. With that, I’m pleased to yield to the distinguished chairman of the committee. He has four bills on the floor today, so we had to cut him in line here.

“Today is a century in the making, a century in the making. It’s long past time that the constitution officially recognizes and guarantees that equality of rights under law shall not be denied on the account of sex,” Jerry Nadler continued.

“We have made great strides in affirming the rights of women and ensuring equality in this country since the ERA first passed Congress by overwhelming majorities. But there is still so much more work to do. There should be no mistake, congress put this deadline in and Congress has every right to remove it now and to clear the way for enshrining equality in the constitution.”

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