AG James: Remove ERA Ratification Deadline

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James led a coalition of 20 state attorneys general strongly urging Congress to remove any ratification deadline that may apply to the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in a joint letter issued recently. In doing so, Congress would set aside any doubt that the ERA remains eligible for ratification.

A change to the U.S. Constitution requires three-fourths of the states to ratify the ERA. Earlier this year, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the ERA. Although three-fourths of the states have ratified the amendment, an opinion issued by the U.S. Department of Justice contends that the deadline for passage of the ERA expired decades ago.

“It is unconscionable that more than a century after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment gave women the constitutional right to vote, we are still waiting for that same constitution to reflect the equality of women under the law,” said Attorney General James.

“Establishing that there is no deadline that applies to the ERA’s ratification is a critical step in officially making the equal treatment of women the law of the land. The widespread support of the ERA cannot be ignored, and I, along with my fellow attorneys general, remain committed to seeing this through.”

The ERA states that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex” — explicitly guaranteeing protection against discrimination based on sex. After becoming the 38th state to ratify the ERA, Virginia has joined Illinois and Nevada in suing the federal government to compel official recognition of the amendment’s adoption. Relying on the DOJ’s opinion, the archivist of the United States, who is responsible for certifying ratification, has refused to certify the ERA. In the letter sent to Congressional leadership, the coalition calls for the passage of two pending resolutions that would eliminate any time limit that may apply to the ERA and clarify its eligibility for certification.

Joining Attorney General James in the letter are the attorneys general of California, 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.

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