On March 8, 2011, Wisconsin Democratic Representative Tammy Baldwin introduced legislation to eliminate the time restraints for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).   The ERA was originally authored by Alice Paul, head of the National Woman’s Party.  Named the “Lucretia Mott Amendment,” the ERA was introduced in every session of Congress from 1923 to 1970.  According to the National Organization of Women, the amendment finally passed the U.S. House of Representatives in 1971 by a 354-24 vote and was approved by an 84-8 vote in the U.S. Senate.  Article V of the Constitution requires three-fifths of the states to ratify an amendment and the ERA has remained 3 states shy of passage; only 35 of the 38 states needed have approved the measure.

In the 1921 U.S. Supreme Court case Dillon v. Gloss the Supreme Court stated that Congress may place deadlines on an amendment’s ratification.  When the ERA was approved by both houses, Congress placed a 7-year time limit on the ratification.  In 1979 Congress granted a 2-year extension, but by 1982 the ERA still had not receive enough state votes.   The ERA has been reintroduced in every Congressional session since 1982.

In order to bypass the 7-year time constraint placed on the amendment, a new strategy for passage has emerged.  In 1992 the requisite number of states finally ratified “the Madison Amendment,” 203 years after its introduction.  The  Madison Amendment  thus became the 27th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  In a similar move, the new plan for the ERA is to once again introduce the legislation, but eliminate the attached time limit.

Supporters of the ERA state that the “3-State Strategy” could finally aid ERA’s passage.  Without the time limitation, ERA simply needs 3 votes out of the 15 “hold-out” states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia.

On February 7, 2011, the Virginia State Senate passed a resolution to ratify the ERA.  Virginia could become the 36th state to approve of the measure, leaving proponents with a “2-State Strategy.”

« »