On March 20, 2017, Nevada State legislature ratified the Equal Rights
Amendment (“ERA”) — decades after the Congressional deadline. Nevada’s belated
ratification, if valid, brings the tally to 36, just two states short of adoption.
In 1972, Congress sent the proposed ERA amendment for consideration and
ratification by the State legislatures, with a deadline of March 1982. By 1977, 35
states ratified the ERA. Prior to Nevada, the last state to approve the ERA was the
state of Indiana in 1977. Nevada’s recent ratification makes 36 of the required 38
states for adoption.
The measure would provide a constitutional guarantee of equal rights for
women. The long dormant ERA, among other things, guarantees that “a quality of
rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any
sate on account of sex”.
ERA supporters, including Nevada Democratic State Senator Pat Spearman, say
that the congressionally imposed deadline “is irrelevant”. Sen. Spearman argues,
while the deadline was in the resolving clause, that deadline “wasn’t part of the
amendment that was proposed by Congress.”
The interesting issue is whether two (2) additional states will adopt the ERA
and press the legal argument that the Congressionally imposed time limit of March,
1982 “was irrelevant”.
But regardless of the timing, the goals of the ERA endure. “The Equal Rights
Amendment is about equality”, said Senator Spearman. Stay tuned.