Monday, December 9, 2019

Could Viginia finally be the state that passes the ERA admendment?

From The Nation, 12/2-129/19


Once the new class of legislators is sworn in to the Virginia General Assembly in January, Democrats will control both its chambers for the first time in almost 25 years. The change may herald a national progressive victory: the passage, at long last, of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Conceived nearly a century ago to end legal distinctions based on sex, the ERA was first sent to state legislatures for ratification in 1972. Within five years, it was ratified by 35 of the 38 states required to adopt it as part of the US Constitution.

But then the ERA entered a limbo that it has not been able to escape. In 1979 a congressionally determined deadline came and went; President Jimmy Carter signed a joint resolution extending it to 1982, though scholars disagree as to whether these cutoffs are constitutional.

Then a series of legislatures in more conservative states voted to revoke their ratifications—moves that may be unconstitutional. In the 21st century, Nevada and Illinois became the 36th and 37th states, respectively, to ratify the ERA.

This February, as Republicans clung to a slim majority in the state’s House of Delegates, Virginia tried and failed to become No. 38.

While the ERA’s adoption is by no means assured (particularly with a conservative majority on the Supreme Court), the Democratic victories in Virginia will almost certainly relaunch the decades-long fight to enshrine equal rights for women in the Constitution.

—Spencer Green

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