Lawmakers push to enshrine women's rights in Constitution


Some conservatives oppose the ERA in part because they fear it could be used to bolster abortion rights, and the Justice Department under President Donald Trump has effectively stopped the National Archives from recognizing it.

After Nevada passed the amendment in 2017 and Illinois in 2018, Virginia last month became the 38th state to ratify an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that 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."

Proponents argue that with passage in Virginia the amendment crosses the final threshold to be enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, now that three-fourths of the 50 states have passed it. 38 states are needed to ratify the ERA, which expired in 1982. Pelosi, Speier, Maryland Congressman Steny Hoyer and others say that deadline for ratification is arbitrary.

The amendment met the other requirements when it was passed by a two-thirds majority of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1971 and the U.S. Senate in 1972. From there it was sent to the states, becoming a major rallying cry of the women's liberation movement of the 1970s.

Opponents say a deadline of 1982 set by Congress has long passed. Alabama, Louisiana and South Dakota filed their own federal lawsuit in December seeking to stop the ERA for that reason.

Kentucky, Idaho, Nebraska, South Dakota and Tennessee passed the ERA, and later rescinded the ratification, FOX news reported.

But Article V of the Constitution, which sets the rules for amendments, makes no mention of time limits, likely leaving the issue for the courts to decide.

Before the Virginia vote, the Justice Department issued a legal opinion saying the process would have to begin anew.