Washington, DC January 27, 2020 – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), Co-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY), Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) released the following joint statement in response to Virginia’s ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and the recent opinion by the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Legal Counsel on the ongoing efforts in Congress and the states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. The Members are proponents of the bipartisan resolution, H.J.Res.79, which would remove the arbitrary deadline for ratification of the ERA and is slated for a House floor vote the week of February 10th.
“Virginia’s historic vote to be the critical 38th state needed to ratify the ERA echoes the resounding call for an America free from sex discrimination. Recently, DOJ released a nonbinding legal opinion claiming that states can no longer ratify the ERA – apparently forgetting that Article V of the Constitution unequivocally leaves the power to amend the Constitution with Congress and the States. DOJ also conveniently overlooks the fact that Congress has set and changed deadlines for constitutional amendments,” the Representatives said. “Virginia’s vote and the outpouring of support from Americans – men and women – across the country have shown that it is finally time to affirm women’s equality in our Constitution and that there is no timeline or expiration date when it comes to achieving it. For survivors of sexual violence, pregnancy discrimination, unequal pay, and more, the fight for equal justice under the law can’t wait any longer. We call upon the Archivist to act swiftly to certify the ERA and for Congress to pass H.J.Res.79 to eliminate any legal ambiguities by striking the deadline for ratification.”
When Congress passed the ERA in 1972, it attached an arbitrary seven-year ratification deadline to the preamble which was later extended three more years. By 1982, 35 states out of the required 38 states had voted to ratify the amendment. In the past three years, grassroots campaigns have successfully secured ratification votes in Nevada, Illinois, and, most recently, Virginia.
Rep. Speier is the sponsor of H.J.Res.79, which would remove the deadline to ratify the ERA and pave the way forward for expeditious ratification of the amendment. The bill is cosponsored by 224 bipartisan Members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.