After almost an entire half-decade since Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), Democratic leaders in Virginia’s Legislature have pledged that the amendment will be ratified. Since Virginia would have been the 38th state to ratify, theoretically the ERA will join the Constitution of the United States.
Then, women can live in an America that unquestionably proclaims the 28th Amendment: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
Although some claim that this idea is already inexplicably stated in the Constitution, this is a misconception. The 14th Amendment states that all people are protected from state abuses, but says nothing concerning sex or gender prejudice. With the Equal Rights Amendment, citizens could live in a country where gender discrimination is considered unconstitutional.
However, there are millions of women who do face this inequality on a daily basis. To find out more about Frances Oldham Kelsey, an inspiring scientist heroine who overcame these prejudices and saved thousands of American lives, click here.
Now that the necessary number of states have ratified the ERA, should it now be added to the other 27 amendments?
No, according to the Justice Department’s opinion.
When Congress passed the ERA in 1972, there was a seven-year time limit to secure all 38 needed states. When the expiration date was pushed back to 1982, only 35 states passed the amendment. According to the opinion, “Congress may not revive a proposed amendment after a deadline for its ratification has ex
pired” (The United States Department of Justice).
However, not all hope is lost. The Justice Department also stated if the amendment is to be proposed again, it just would have to be consistent with Article V’s procedures “required to propose an amendment in the first instance.”
It should be noted that Georgia has not ratified the ERA.
Junior Anjala Sivanandan argues that Georgia should change this: “All people should be considered equal no matter their sex, so all steps should be taken to encourage that.”