The Equal Rights Amendment was written by Alice Paul in 1923 and is still not a Constitutional Law. The proposed amendment would make it illegal to discriminate based on sex, paralleling the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of racial equality.
The proposed amendment passed through the House of Representatives and the Senate in 1972, but fell three states short of the necessary 38 to be ratified as a Constitutional Amendment before its deadline passed. It has been introduced in every Congressional session since.
The Equal Rights Amendment would establish Constitutional equality for the sexes, creating an important precedent. It would subject cases of sex discrimination to strict scrutiny in the courts, a classification that would make sex discrimination easier to prove. Racial and religious discrimination cases currently enjoy this classification. Additionally, it would eliminate sex discrimination in government programs such as insurance and Social Security.
The ERA was reintroduced into the 112th Congress by Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) as H.J. Res. 69 in the House of Representatives and by Senator Robert Menedez (D-NJ) as H.J. Res. 21 in the Senate on June 22, 2011. It will need to pass the House and the Senate and then gain ratification in 38 states to become a law.
The three-state strategy challenges the constitutionality of imposing a deadline on ratification. Using the Madison Amendment, which took more than 100 years to ratify, as precedent, this strategy would start with 35 states and just need to gain three more for the ERA to become law.
This is the full text of the proposed amendment:
Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.