The Exhumation of the Equal Rights Amendment, by Stephen M. Krason

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By Stephen M. Krason, Crisis Magazine, February 6, 2019

Some readers may have noticed the campaign in some states to “ratify” a constitutional amendment proposal that people thought had died almost forty years ago. Remember the Equal Rights Amendment, which was a major feminist rallying point in the 1970s? Proposed by Congress in 1972, after the idea had kicked around for fifty years, it quickly sailed through state legislatures and seemed destined for easy ratification. In fact, Senator Birch Bayh, who helped spearheaded the proposal through Congress in 1972, had predicted that it would be ratified in two years. It almost was, as the amendment “sounded like a good idea” and generated limited debate or critical analysis. After all, how could anyone dispute that “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” as the amendment stated? Then, as the decade wore on, there were no more state ratifications and a few legislatures even voted to rescind their previous ratification. There was no deadline for ratification written into the text of the amendment, as has been the case with most proposed amendments of the past hundred years, but a seven-year deadline was specified in the preamble to the joint Congressional resolution proposing it.

When the seven years elapsed, Congress enacted a controversial three-year extension. That still didn’t help the amendment to meet the constitutional threshold of ratification by three-quarters of the states and it was understood that it died in 1982. Even its most ardent advocates did not dispute its expiration. The defeat of the ERA, by the way, was an example of how one person can sometimes make a world of difference in politics. Most observers agree that if the late faithful Catholic Phyllis Schlafly, who headed the Eagle Forum and Stop ERA organizations, had not been on the scene there is little doubt that the ERA would have become part of the Constitution….Read entire article, go to: