A U.S. House committee has advanced a resolution that could allow for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, if the amendment passes the upcoming Virginia General Assembly.
Following last week’s elections during which Democrats flipped both chambers of the state legislature, lawmakers have said they will bring the ERA before the General Assembly in early 2020 for its passage, which would make Virginia the final state needed for the amendment’s ratification.
However, the problem is that the ERA has been awaiting ratification since 1972, and Congress originally gave the states seven years to ratify and then later extended that deadline to 1982.
The House resolution, introduced on Wednesday by House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) and co-sponsored by Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger, would remove that time limit.
“There is no time limit on equality, and it’s beyond time for women and men to be recognized and protected as equals under the law. Today, we’ll see the House Judiciary Committee vote to make clear that American women deserve equal rights under the U.S. Constitution,” said Spanberger ahead of Wednesday’s vote. “This vote is years in the making, and it’s the result of tireless work from advocates in Virginia and throughout the United States who never stopped fighting for the things that mattered most to them. As a mom, sister and daughter, I am immensely proud of the House’s progress on this issue and our ongoing push to achieve ratification and equality.”
Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Arkansas) and Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) have introduced a companion resolution in the Senate.
By 1982, 35 of the 38 states needed to ratify the amendment had approved it. Since then two more have done so, and Virginia appears poised to do so next year. However, some states have also rescinded their decision to support the amendment.
Even if Virginia passes the amendment in 2020, it may be up to the court system to determine if it can be added to the U.S. Constitution because of the congressionally-imposed deadline.