With Virginia Legislature Flipping, ERA Poised to Become Law – Despite Hurdles. Finally!

by on November 7, 2019 · 5 comments

in Women's Rights

On election night, Tuesday, the Virginia state legislature flipped – and now the state is blue. Virginia Democrats have been out of power in the legislature for a quarter of a century but the voters have spoken.

This turn-over now creates a road for the ERA, the Equal Rights Amendment, to become law. Virginia is now – with the first woman to serve as speaker in the body’s 400-year history, Democrat Eileen Filler-Corn – poised to pass the ERA. And when it does, Virginia becomes the crucial 38th state to ratify the measure. This would be the three-fourths of the all 50 states threshold needed to add it to the Constitution.

But there are two main hurdles.

For one, Congress set a deadline of 1982 – but by that date, only 35 states had ratified the ERA.

And two, some states have withdrawn their approval.

Some history is needed here. Many progressives, mainly older men, have been shocked that the ERA never became law. Yet the reality is that it is not law.

The ERA was first proposed in 1923, passed by Congress in 1972 and then sent out to the states for ratification. Only 35 states ratified it before the Congress-set deadline of 1982 came to be. What happened?

The primary reason the effort to amend the Constitution to include women died is the opposition mounted by anti-feminist Phylis Schlaflly, who ascribed all kinds of evils to the measure. She claimed equal rights would hurt housewives, cause chaos in bathrooms, force women into the military and lead to gay marriage.

Behind her movement was also the powerful anti-abortion sentiment and campaigns.

Now, nearly 40 years later – many of Schlaffly’s fears have been realized. And perhaps due to the confluence of events, Trump’s election, the #MeToo Movement, the heightened sense of women’s rights under siege – the ERA is back.

In 2015, Nevada state Senator Pat Spearman created a new push in her state to ratify the amendment, and achieved that goal two years later. Spearman said this week: “There’s no shelf life for equality.”

Then in 2018, Illinois ratified the ERA, bringing the tally up to 37 states. Attention turned to Virginia. But Republicans in Virginia refused to vote the ERA out of committee earlier this year. This did two things: its immediate passage was blocked; and incensed, young activists vowed to ramp up the campaign to make it reality.

Which brings us to this point.

“We are on the cusp of history,” Spearman from Nevada said, adding, “We are the only industrial country in the world not to have women in the Constitution.”

“Equal rights might have been on cruise control before. But now it’s pedal to the metal.”

And now Virginia Democrats, many of whom campaigned on the amendment, will be bringing the ERA up again almost immediately. Dick Saslaw, the state Senate Democratic leader, told a crowd, according to CNN:

“One thing we are going to need to do right away is pass the Equal Rights Amendment in a Virginia.”

Jessica Neuwirth and Carol Jenkins, co-presidents of The ERA Coalition, made a statement:

“We have been on this mission for nearly 100 years. Tonight, we are finally within reach of true equality for girls and women in the United States, thanks to the voters of Virginia and supporters across the country,”

The ERA’s passage in Virginia appears to be a certainty – but yet, those hurdles still stand.

On the supposed deadline, ERA supporters argue that Congress could extend or overrule the 1982 deadline. There is even a strong argument that the deadline is not legal and is subject to a court challenge – ‘how can there even be a deadline for ratifying an amendment to the Constitution?’ No other amendments have had that restriction.

In fact, there’s currently a bill in the House that would get rid of the deadline.

What about the 5 states – Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, Tennessee, and South Dakota – that ratified the ERA but have withdrawn their support?

This scenario is not addressed in the Constitution. One basic stance by legal scholars says you can’t just rescind constitutional ratification. Other voices say because those states rescinded the ERA differently (by the governor, by the legislature), each case would have to be evaluated separately – leading to more court.

It’s this writer’s opinion, the movement to finally bring this amendment to the Constitution is too powerful and is frankly, unstoppable. The ERA is poised to become law.

Sources:

HuffPost

Slate

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar Hopper Moss November 7, 2019 at 5:24 pm

I wonder if the Equal Rights Amendment, which will guarantee equal rights for men and women in areas where they are not already guaranteed by any current federal, state, or local government statutes, is added to the U.S. Constitution, will it cure the many “gaps” concerning men, such as the following:

1. The Education Gap that currently pervades higher education, which is currently dominated by women. According to the U.S. Department of Education, in 2017, women received 155 associate degrees for every 100 men, women received 134 bachelor’s degrees for every 100 men, women received 146 master’s degrees for every 100 men, and women received 114 doctor’s degrees for every 100 men.
2. The Workplace Death Gap. Men are 10 times more likely than women to be killed while working. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in its annual 2018 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, looked at 139 separate occupations and discrete industries, an obvious pattern quickly emerged: the safest workplaces are indoors, and the safest occupations frequently require education beyond high school. The deadliest occupations, on the other hand, are outside and often involve operating equipment. This largely drives the huge difference in workplace fatalities between men and women, with 4,761 men dying on the job compared to 386 women in 2017. The fatality rate for men was about 10 times that of women: 5.7 per 100,000 vs. 0.6 per 100,000 for women.
3. The Suicide Gap. In the United States males die by suicide three to four times more often than do females. And,
4. The Military Draft Gap. Only men are required to register with the United States Selective Service System for the U.S. military draft.

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Avatar Valerie Tuck November 7, 2019 at 9:29 pm

Hahahahahhaha!!! SNL hire him!!!

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Avatar Peter from South O November 8, 2019 at 2:57 am

Oh, my GOD! What an entitled backlash.

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Avatar Peter from South O November 8, 2019 at 10:45 am

Conclusions based on numbered points in order:
1. Women are smarter.
2. Women take fewer risks.
3. Women are more stable mentally.
4. Women do not need the draft to enlist and serve; they do it because they are patriots.

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie November 8, 2019 at 10:08 am

You ought to apply for a job at the White House (I hear they’re hiring as they just can’t keep good help) as a Trump speech writer. Be part of the white men’s resistance movement. Oh, btw, before you do, have your statistics checked. Let’s see, hmm, more men work outside – and wow, more men are injured outside – how astounding!

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