Illinois ratifies Equal Rights Amendment — decades after deadline

Illinois state lawmakers voted Wednesday to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment — decades after Congress’s deadline to ratify the measure expired.

The Illinois House passed the measure 72-45, the Chicago Tribune reported. The state Senate had voted in favor of ratification last month, and it does not require the support of Gov. Bruce Rauner (R).

The passage sets the stage for a possible legal battle over the amendment, since Congress’s deadline for states to ratify the amendment expired in 1982.

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But supporters argue that because a 1789 amendment was ratified more than two centuries later, in 1992, the Equal Rights Amendment could still be added to the Constitution, the Tribune noted.

Congress approved the amendment in 1972. But only 35 states ratified it ahead of the deadline, three short of the number required to add it to the Constitution.

Nevada similarly ratified the Equal Rights Amendment last year after the deadline.

Lawmakers in both chambers of Congress introduced identical pieces of legislation in 2017 to remove the ratification deadline.

Supporters argue that the amendment is necessary to officially guarantee equal rights for all American citizens, regardless of sex.

However, opponents argue that the amendment would expand abortion rights for women.

“I am appalled and embarrassed that the state of Illinois has not done this earlier,” Democratic state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, a Marine veteran, told the Tribune. “I am proud to be on this side of history and I am proud to support not only all the women that this will help, that this will send a message to, but I am also here to be a role model for my daughter.”