Special Sub-Topic: A Chronicle of the Equal Rights Amendment
|The text of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."|
t. That was section 1. Section 2 gives Congress the power to pass laws to enforce the amendment, and Section 3 simply states that the amendment takes effect two years after ratification.
|Who originally wrote in 1923 the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), intended to guarantee equal rights and equal protection for women, as the Fourteenth Amendment did for African Americans?
Alice Paul. Alice Paul was a member of the National Women's Party, a lobbying group, that formed after women won the right to vote. She called it the Lucretia Mott Amendment after the famous 19th-century Quaker feminist and abolitionist who founded Swarthmore College.
|The Equal Rights Amendment was introduced in every session of Congress, without fail, between 1923 and 1972. |
t. Yes, it was, although rarely did it leave committee to end up on the floor for a vote. It was first introduced by Susan B. Anthony's nephew, Senator Charles Curtis.
In 1972, Congress finally passed the Amendment, and it was sent to the states for ratification. This is the process for all amendments to the Constitution of the United States.
|Who was the first President of the USA to ask Congress to pass the Equal Rights Amendment?|
Dwight D. Eisenhower. Surprised? It might have passed in the 1950s had it not been for the attachment of the Hayden Rider, which stated: "The provisions of this article shall not be construed to impair any rights, benefits, or exemptions now or hereafter conferred by law upon persons of the female sex." The National Women's Party opposed this addition, and the bill died.
|The National Women's Party supported the ERA from the 1920s onward. Then what group the women's liberation movement of the 1960s (the Second Wave of feminism) also made the ERA one of its top priorities from the start?|
National Organization for Women (NOW). Founded in 1966, NOW also pushed for enforcement of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which prohibited sex discrimination), tax deductions for childcare expenses, maternity leave, and many other issues.
The League of Women Voters, daughter group of the National-American Women's Suffrage Association, opposed the ERA until 1972 because they wanted to keep protective labor legislation for working-class women. NARAL's name should be self-explanatory. WSP was *primarily* and anti-war and anti-nuclear group, although they did support many of the same issues as NOW did.
|Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972, when it was sent to the states for ratification. Which state was the first to ratify the ERA?|
Hawaii. Hawaii led the vanguard, even though New York might seem more likely. Before Wyoming became a state, it became in 1869 the first U.S. territory to allow women to vote in national elections. (Colorado would be the first proper state to enfranchise women.) Indiana was the last state to ratify the ERA.
|Which U.S. First Lady was a vocal supporter of the ERA, at times to her husband's chagrin?|
Betty Ford. Ms. Ford blazed the trail for politically active First Ladies. Not only the ERA and equal pay for women, but also reproductive rights, breast cancer awareness, gun control, funding for the arts, and mental health treatment were among her passions. Conservatives despised her, but most Americans loved her, and she held an approval rating of 75%, much higher than her husband's during his re-election campaign.
Eleanor Roosevelt opposed the National Women's Party and the ERA. She felt that the ERA was mainly useful to middle-class women, as working-class women needed protective labor legislation. (Ms. Roosevelt had already died, however, before Congress passed the ERA.)
|For a constitutional amendment to become law in the USA, three-fourths of the States must ratify it in their legislatures. How many of the 38 necessary states had ratified the ERA by the March 1979 deadline imposed by Congress?|
Just three states short.. Although not all amendments are given deadlines, Congress had set one for the ERA. Thirty-five of the necessary 38 states had ratified by the original 1979 deadline, which was extended to 1982.
|At first the ERA moved quickly through the states. Then in the late 1970s, the ERA faced organized opposition, especially from a band of conservatives. Who led the most prominent of the anti-ERA organizations?|
Phyllis Schlafly . Phyllis Schlafly was the instigator of a group who called themselves STOP-ERA. She claimed that the ERA would deny woman's right to be supported by her husband, privacy rights would be overturned, women would be sent into combat, abortion rights would be upheld, and homosexual marriages would be legalized. Ironically, the erosion of alimony began during the 1980s, and the remaining worries had either come true or started to come true by the early 21st century, without the ERA.
|Along with STOP-ERA and Christian fundamentalists, other groups opposed the ERA during the crisis period, 1978-1982, when the ERA was on the cusp of becoming law. Which was NOT one of these groups?|
the American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). Labor unions (the AFL-CIO) initially opposed because they wanted to keep protective legislation for women, and they feared that women's increased presence in the workforce would lower wages. In 1973, however, the AFL-CIO reversed its position.
Health insurance companies opposed the ERA because they feared they would be forced to cover men and women equally, cover the expenses of pregnancy (or the termination thereof), and not be allowed to charge women higher premiums than men. Feminists accused insurance companies of underhanded manipulation of the public.
|Which major U.S. political parties supported the Equal Rights Amendment between its introduction and its passage by Congress?|
both the Republican and Democratic parties. The Republican Party had added the ERA to its platform in 1940; the Democratic Party in 1944, although until 1972 the labor unions (AFL-CIO) continued to fight it, while mainly Southern Democrats supported it. The Republican Party removed the ERA plank in 1980, thanks to the conservatives' transformation of the party. The Democratic Party removed the plank in 2004, for reasons unclear. In 2012, the Democratic Party returned the ERA plank to its official National Platform after the Supreme Court ruled that women employees could not bring a class-action suit against Wal*Mart.
|Congress voted to extend the deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to 1982. By that time, several states had NEVER ratified the ERA, not even in one legislative house. Which ones?|
Georgia, Alabama, Virginia, and Arizona. Additional states that never ratified the ERA include Utah, Iowa, and Mississippi. Now in Nevada, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and South Carolina, one house (but not the other) did approve the ERA. Kentucky, Tennessee, Idaho, and Nebraska had ratified the ERA but later claim to rescind, although the legality of rescission is dubious.
The extension was to no avail, and the ERA expired in 1982. Or did it ...?
|Let's jump ahead a few decades. What Supreme Court Justice stated in 2010 that he or she did not believe the Constitution protects against sex discrimination?|
Antonin Scalia. Scalia asserted that the Fourteenth Amendment had been wrongly applied to sex discrimination cases, despite decades of precedence, as he believes that the writers of the amendment did not intend it. At the time of his pronouncement, he was the longest-serving member on the Court.
He received numerous accusations of hypocrisy, especially for ruling on the notion that a corporation is a person, as the Founding Fathers did not intend for corporations to be understood as persons.
|How many states possessed a version of the Equal Rights Amendment in their STATE constitutions by the 2010s?
21. Even though the federal amendment did not pass, many states of the Union included some language of gender parity in their constitutions. They are as follows: AK, CA, CO, CT, HI, IA, MD, MA, MT, NH, NJ, NM, PA, TX, WA, WY, FL, IL, LA, UT and VA. Interestingly, some of the states with ERA-like constitutional clauses (FL, IL, LA, UT and VA) never ratified the federal ERA.
|Since the early 1980s, there has been no effort in Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution to provide women equal protection under the law.|
f. Actually, during the early 3rd millennium, the equality bees were buzzing. In the 110th Congress (2007-2008), Sen. Edward Kennedy (MA) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY) re-introduced the Equal Rights Amendment. In the 112th Congress (2011-2012), Maloney did so again with Sen. Robert Menendez (NJ). Additionally, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (WI) and Sen. Benjamin Cardin (MD) introduced legislation to remove the ratification deadline, so that the ERA would become law as soon as three more states ratify it. This is called the Three-State Strategy.
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