(WASHINGTON) — Congressional Democrats on Thursday unveiled a new push to make the Equal Rights Amendment part of the Constitution.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri introduced a joint resolution stating the gender-equality measure has met ratification requirements and should be finalized as the 28th Amendment immediately by the national archivist.
“The ERA is the path that brings our entire country toward true gender equity, and all that is standing in the way of this necessary change is paperwork,” Bush said in a news release.
The measure is the latest tactic in the party’s renewed effort to revive the amendment, which protects against sex discrimination, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s overruling of Roe v. Wade. Critics of the court’s decision have pointed to language from Justice Clarence Thomas they say threatens other rights such as marriage equality or contraception access.
Earlier this year, a bipartisan attempt to push the ERA forward by removing the 1982 deadline — set by Congress for ratification — was blocked by Senate Republicans.
The new measure from Gillibrand and Bush contends the 1982 deadline is arbitrary, stating Article V of the Constitution sets only two requirements for amendments — passage by two-thirds of the House and Senate and ratification by three-fourths of the states — and maintain both have been satisfied.
Legal experts told ABC News, however, the process for constitutional amendments isn’t so clear cut.
“The Constitution doesn’t provide any clear rules for determining when the rules of Article V have been satisfied,” said Columbia Law professor David Pozen.
Pozen noted virtually every amendment has faced plausible legal challenges to its compliance with Article V, and the courts have largely stayed out of such disputes.
“At the end of the day, whether an amendment has crossed the line and deserves to be considered part of the Constitution is a function of whether enough government officials, lawyers and ordinary citizens treat it as such,” he said.
Wilfred Codrington, a professor at Brooklyn Law School, had a similar view.
“Constitutional amendments and pushes to have them proposed and ratified are largely political issues,” he said. “We should think about this as a political question, and think of our government actors as the ones to make the determination of its validity.”
The ERA, which will soon reach a 100-year milestone, has been at an impasse since Virginia became the 38th state to ratify in 2020. The congressional deadline, the rescission of ratification by some states and other issues have been the focus of several lawsuits.
The joint resolution from Gillibrand and Bush seeks to end that limbo but it is unlikely to pass given the Republican Party’s general stance that the amendment is not necessary.
But Codrington said he doesn’t believe the ERA is an issue that is going away any time soon.
“It hasn’t died in over a century. It hasn’t died in the States, where many have successfully enacted their own constitutional amendments to guarantee gender equality,” he said. “On the national scale, political actors are thinking about the political times with abortion, marriage equality and other gendered issues arising.”
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