DOJ asks federal court to throw out lawsuit to add ERA to the Constitution

DOJ asks federal court to throw out lawsuit to add ERA to the Constitution
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The Department of Justice (DOJ) is asking a federal court to dismiss a January lawsuit filed by three state attorneys general that seeks to add the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution.

On Thursday DOJ officials with the civil division filed a motion to dismiss the case, which was filed in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia. The DOJ’s motion argues that the timeframe to pass the amendment has been exhausted, which echoes an opinion the department issued in January. 

The National Archives and Records Administration, which oversees the ratification of constitutional amendments, said it would abide by that opinion.

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Under the ERA bill first passed by Congress in 1972, states were given a seven-year deadline to ratify the measure, which would establish that equal rights cannot be denied or curtailed on the basis of gender. It would also give Congress the right to enforce the amendment. 

The bill would become the 28th amendment to the Constitution.

That deadline was later extended to 1982, and by then only 35 states had ratified the ERA, three short of the three-fourths needed. Over the past two years, three more states have approved the amendment, with Virginia becoming the 38th state in January.

The Thursday motion claims the plaintiffs lack a "concrete injury" linked to the actions of the US archivist David Ferriero, who is listed as the defendant, and that the complaint should be dismissed "for failure to state a claim."

The House passed legislation in February that would remove the deadline to ratify the ERA, a top priority for Democrats.

Women’s rights advocates have led the nationwide effort for the amendment’s ratification, arguing it will protect women from discrimination and gender-based violence.

A February poll found three-fourths of Americans are in favor of passing the ERA.