Democratic attorneys general call on Congress to pass Equal Rights Amendment

Democratic attorneys general call on Congress to pass Equal Rights Amendment
© Getty Images

A coalition of 20 Democratic state attorneys general called on Congress to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in a letter to House and Senate leaders Tuesday.

In the letter, the attorneys general note that neither the Constitution nor the ERA’s text include a time limit for state ratification, which reached the 38-state threshold this year with Virginia’s passage of the amendment.

“Congress is in a unique position to resolve any controversy quickly and definitively,” the letter states. “If Congress has the power to establish a ratification deadline, it follows that Congress also has the authority to eliminate any such deadline.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Signatories of the letter, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), include the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

The ERA would add text to the Constitution stating, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

Virginia has separately joined Nevada and Illinois to sue the federal government to compel official recognition that the amendment has been adopted. The letter calls for the passage of two pending resolutions in both chambers of Congress that would eliminate any time limit.

“It is unconscionable that more than a century after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment gave women the constitutional right to vote, we are still waiting for that same constitution to reflect the equality of women under the law,” James said. “Establishing that there is no deadline that applies to the ERA’s ratification is a critical step in officially making the equal treatment of women the law of the land. The widespread support of the ERA cannot be ignored, and I, along with my fellow attorneys general, remain committed to seeing this through.”

Meanwhile, the Republican attorneys general of Alabama, South Dakota and Louisiana sued to prevent the amendment’s ratification in December before Virginia’s passage of it, with Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall calling it a “constitutional bait-and-switch.”