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Purple Project for Democracy: The Equal Rights Amendment

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06:  U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) (4th-L) speaks as Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) (2nd-L), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) (3rd-L), and President of the Feminist Majority Eleanor Smeal (2nd-R) listen during a news conference January 6, 2011 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Rep. Maloney and Sen. Menendez held a news conference to highlight the absence of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the U.S. Constitution.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images
U.S. Rep. Maloney and Sen. Menendez held a news conference to highlight the absence of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the U.S. Constitution January 6, 2011.

It’s been nearly 100 years since the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was introduced to ensure equal legal rights for American citizens regardless of sex. Next year, it may have a shot at being added to the Constitution.

It’s been nearly 100 years since the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was introduced to ensure equal legal rights for American citizens regardless of sex. Next year, it may have a shot at being added to the Constitution.   

The Equal Rights Amendment: 



Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.



Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.



Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

The ERA cleared Congress in 1972, but fell just a few states short of the two-thirds required for ratification. The time limit on ratification expired, but several states have ratified the amendment since. And now with Virginia turning blue, it’s likely to become the 38th state to ratify the ERA. 

Meanwhile, there’s a bi-partisan bill moving through the House that would nix the deadline for ratification. 

It’s not clear what will happen after Virginia ratifies the ERA, whether Congress can effectively nix the deadline and if the Supreme Court might get involved. 

We take you back through the ERA’s contentious history and speculate on its future.

Guest:

Julie Suk, professor of sociology and political science and a scholar of constitutional law at the CUNY (City University of New York) Graduate Center; she is currently writing a book on the Equal Rights Amendment, set to publish in 2020

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