The Biden Administration’s Office of Legal Counsel put yet another nail in the coffin of the long-dead Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).
The so-called Equal Rights Amendment, which would have prohibited discrimination on the basis of “sex,” passed both houses of Congress in 1972. ERA, which feminists claimed “put women in the Constitution” was headed for certain ratification until Phyllis Schlafly and her Eagle Forum activists raised concerns that because ERA mentioned “sex,” but not “women,” the amendment would not ensure the equality feminists desired, but would actually remove from women important rights and protections, like exemption from military draft, and the right to sex-segregated private spaces like bathrooms and locker rooms.
When ERA passed in 1972, Congress included a seven-year deadline for ratification. ERA was initially declared dead when it was not ratified by the required 38 states by the 1979 deadline. By 1979, only 35 states passed ratification bills, and, largely as a result of Schlafly’s and Eagle Forum’s efforts, of those 35 states, five states later passed legislation rescinding their ratification.
In the wake of the “me too” movement, ERA proponents attempted to resurrect the dead Amendment by claiming that the ratification deadline was unconstitutional, and that ERA could still be added to the Constitution if three more states voted to ratify. ERA advocates targeted three state legislatures, all of which passed ratification bills, Nevada in 2017, Illinois in 2018, and Virginia in 2020.
Upon guidance from the Trump Administration’s Office of Legal Counsel in 2020, national archivist, David Ferriero, declined to add ERA as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution. Proponents sued Ferriero. In March 2021, Obama-appointed Washington, D.C. Circuit Court Judge Rudolph Contreras confirmed that the 1972-passed Equal Rights Amendment was dead, could not be revived, and that ERA could not be added to the Constitution. On January 6, 2022, the Biden Administration Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion leaving in place the guidance from the Trump Administration, providing bi-partisan confirmation that ERA is dead.
“Eagle Forum’s beloved founder, Phyllis Schlafly, led the fight against ERA from its inception in 1972 because she understood that instead of protecting women, ERA forced the elimination of all distinctions between men and women. When that happens, women always lose,” said Eagle Forum President Colleen Holcomb.
“Sadly, we are seeing the consequences of eliminating distinctions between the sexes today in so many arenas like the crisis surrounding girls’ sports and the sexual assault of young women in their high school bathrooms in Loudoun County, Virginia,” said Eagle Forum President Colleen Holcomb.
“Judge Contreras’ ruling confirmed that ERA is dead. Now, even the imminently ‘woke’ Biden Administration has confirmed this diagnosis,” Holcomb continued. “We urge all those who are truly concerned about promoting women’s advancement and safety to abandon the divisive and legally dead ERA and instead work together fight actual exploitation of and discrimination against women.”