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H.J. Res. 35 ERA Ratification Bill

The Equal Rights Amendment was written in 1923 by Alice Paul, a leader of the woman suffrage movement and a women’s rights activist with three law degrees. It was introduced in Congress in the same year and subsequently reintroduced in every session of Congress for half a century.

H.J.Res.35 - Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to equal rights for men and women

FAQ

In 1943 Paul rewrote the text to its current wording, modeled on the language of the 19th Amendment (“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex”). The 19th Amendment is thus far the Constitution’s only explicitly affirmed guarantee of equal rights for women, the right to vote.

On March 22, 1972, the 1943 version of the ERA finally passed the Senate and the House of Representatives by the required two-thirds majority and was sent to the states for ratification. An original seven-year deadline was later extended by Congress to June 30, 1982. When this deadline expired, only 35 of the necessary 38 states (the constitutionally required three-fourths) had ratified the amendment.

The ERA is therefore not yet a part of the U.S. Constitution.

In accordance with the traditional ratification process outlined in Article V of the Constitution, the Equal Rights Amendment has been reintroduced in every session of Congress since 1982.

In the 116th Congress (2019-2020), the traditional ERA ratification bill is H.J. Res. 35 (lead sponsors, Representatives Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, and Tom Reed, R-NY): Section 1: Women shall have equal rights in the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction. 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: Congress and the several States 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.

In the 116th Congress (2019-2020), the traditional ERA ratification bill is H.J. Res. 35 (lead sponsors, Representatives Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, and Tom Reed, R-NY): Section 1: Women shall have equal rights in the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction. 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: Congress and the several States 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. Beginning with the 113th Congress (2014-2015), the text of the traditional ERA bill in the House of Representatives has included wording not present in the 1972 bill passed by Congress. Section 1 specifically names women in the Constitution for the first time, and the addition of "and the several States" in Section 2 affirms that enforcement of the constitutional prohibition of sex discrimination is a function of both federal and state levels of government. In the 116th Congress, bills to override any deadline and affirm ratification when 38 states have ratified are S.J. Res. 6 (Senators Benjamin Cardin, D-MD, and Lisa Murkowski, R-AK) and H.J. Res. 38 (Representative Jackie Speier, D-CA). These bills are related to a non-traditional route to ERA ratification, a novel and unprecedented “three-state strategy,” which has been advanced since 1994. (See Question 5 for more details.) In that year, Representative Robert Andrews (D-NJ) introduced a bill stating that when an additional three states ratify the ERA, the House of Representatives shall take any necessary action to verify that ratification has been achieved. In 2011, he joined Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) in support of her bill to remove the ERA’s ratification deadline and make it part of the Constitution when three more states ratify. The Senate companion bill to that legislation was introduced by Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD). In pursuit of this strategy, ERA supporters have since 1995 advocated for passage of ERA ratification bills in the 15 “unratified” states. (See the list in Question 5.) As of 2019, such bills have been introduced in one or more legislative sessions in 14 of these states, with only Alabama never having filed such a bill. On March 22, 2017, after more than two decades of advocacy based on the three-state strategy, Nevada became the 36th state to ratify the ERA, 45 years to the day after Congress passed the amendment and sent it to the states for ratification. In May 2018, Illinois became the 37th state to ratify the ERA.

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