Still fighting for the ERA

  • 11 June 2018
  • NormanL

Some readers may recall when the Equal Rights Amendment was all the rage amonf Americaqn feminists. The proposed constitutional amendment would have prohibited sex discrimination at the federal and state levels of government. Many thought when the proposed amendment failed to reach the 1982 ratification deadline, it was a dead letter. Not so, say its supporters, who say they now need just one more state raitifcation to make the amendment part of the Constitution.

There are a few problems with that contention, as this National Review piece explains:

The activists insist they are just “one state away” from ratification, but in fact they are far from accomplishing their goal. When Congress passed the amendment, it stipulated that if the states didn’t ratify the change by 1979, congressional approval would no longer be in force. When that failed, Congress extended the deadline to 1982, but no more states ratified it. In addition, five of the states that did ratify it later rescinded their endorsements.

To get to “one state away,” ERA supporters are counting all the states that ratified it before the deadline, ignoring states’ attempts to take back their blessings and counting two states that have ratified it since last year, decades after the deadline had passed. At the very least, the pro-ERA movement will face an uphill legal battle. It will need to prove both that Congress can’t set ratification deadlines and that states can’t rescind their ratification votes.

A court fight is almost guaranteed if another state ratifies this zombie amendment. But why are soem still urging its passage?

...we ought to examine the underlying agenda of those making a renewed push for the ERA. Surely, they’re aware that current law prohibits sex discrimination. Progressives are after neither a legal innovation nor a symbolic victory. They desire, first and foremost, a tool with which to crush their ideological opponents and impose their radical agenda.

Undoubtedly, for example, they wish to create some constitutional support for “reproductive rights.” The shaky legal fiction of Roe v. Wade — with no constitutional grounding aside from “emanations” and “penumbras” — has imposed an essentially unlimited abortion-on-demand regime on the entire country for decades. How much more powerful would this constitutional amendment be in accomplishing those aims, especially in the hands of a high court full of justices in the mold of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor?

In short, liberal feminists are disingenuous when they say they’re simply seeking “equal rights.” They want the U.S. Constitution to offer a clause that can be wielded to protect any right they deem essential to female empowerment. In practice, it would serve not as a recognition of women as equal human beings but as a formal codification of the spirit of the sexual revolution.

Possibly. But we're more concerned about the intergrity of the constitutional amendment process.

If a deadline for ratificiation is established, and the deadline passes without the requisite number of states approving an amendment, the amendment has failed. Period. Proponents are welcome to begin the process over again, but deadlines -- particularly constitutional deadlines -- ought not to be negotiable. And the question of whether states can rescind ratification deserves further debate. If they can, then the ERA not only failed, it lost support.