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AG James joins amicus brief supporting passage of Equal Rights Amendment

July 1, 2020 Rob Abruzzese
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Attorney General Letitia James joined a coalition on Monday of 19 attorneys general and one governor to advocate that the Equal Rights Amendment be ratified as the 28th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The Equal Rights Amendment is nearly 100 years old. Initially proposed in 1923, it was designed to guarantee equal legal rights for U.S. citizens regardless of sex. It would remove legal distinctions between men and women in matters of divorce, property and employment, among others.

Congress did not propose the ERA to states for ratification until 1972. At the time, Congress gave the states only seven years to pass it. Only 35 states had ratified it by 1979. That deadline was then extended until 1982, but no other states joined.

“The ratification of the ERA is long overdue, and the Trump administration’s attempts to block our efforts once again displays the president’s disrespect and contempt for equality,” Attorney General James said. “A century after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment giving women the constitutional right to vote, we are still waiting for our nation to bat down discrimination against women and recognize equal rights and protections.

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Early in 2020, the 38th state joined in the coalition to ratify the amendment as a U.S. constitutional amendment, meeting the three-fourths requirement. However, the federal government refused to certify the amendment on the grounds that the deadline for ratification imposed by Congress had passed.

In response to the inaction, the final three states to ratify the amendment, Nevada, Illinois and Virginia, sued, claiming that the deadline was invalid.

In an amicus brief, James and others argue that the plaintiff states’ ratifications are valid despite the deadline and that attempts by five states to rescind their earlier ratifications are invalid. The brief also supports Nevada, Illinois and Virginia in their suit.

“I proudly stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the women across this nation calling for equal treatment under the law, and our coalition will continue to fight to ensure that call becomes a reality,” James said.

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