February 12, 2020 - SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Tuesday joined a coalition of 20 attorneys general urging Congress to affirm that the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is now the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The ERA amends the Constitution to guarantee that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.” The landmark amendment was passed in 1972 with overwhelming bipartisan support from the U.S. House and Senate. On January 27, 2020, Virginia became the 38th and final state needed to ratify the amendment. The coalition, in a letter submitted to Congressional leadership, encourages Congress to vote on S.J. Res. 6 and H.J. Res. 79, bills that would remove the purported time limit for ratification of the ERA. The coalition argues that the bills are not necessary to the adoption of the ERA, but would remove any doubts as to the amendment’s viability.
“It's 2020, not 1920, and women should be guaranteed more than just the right to vote – they should be guaranteed full equality under the law,” said Attorney General Becerra. “We’re asking Congress to clear the path forward for adopting the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is past time that the law explicitly recognizes that everyone, no matter their sex, is equal under the law.”
After the ERA’s passage in 1972, the amendment was quickly ratified by most states, falling just short of the three-quarter threshold needed for adoption. Last month, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the ERA, clearing the way for its incorporation into the Constitution. However, the U.S. Department of Justice is challenging the validity of the amendment, arguing that ratification by the states came too late. Virginia, Nevada, and Illinois, the most recent states to ratify the ERA, have filed a lawsuit seeking to compel the archivist of the United States to add the amendment to the Constitution. Additionally, all but one of the as-yet-unratified states have introduced bills to ratify the amendment, illustrating the continued and expanding support for the ERA across the country.
In their letter, the coalition urges Congress to vote on two bills that would eliminate any purported time limit on ratification. The coalition highlights in their letter that neither the Constitution nor the ERA contain a time limit for state ratification, but believes Congress should quickly and definitively use its power to remove any doubts that the ERA is now a legitimate part of the U.S. Constitution.
In submitting the letter, Attorney General Becerra joins the attorneys general of New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
A copy of the letter is available here.
Source: CA. DOJ