Should We Amend the Constitution?

April 30, 2019
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Should We Amend The Constitution?

Today, Congress will hold the first hearing on the Equal Rights Amendment in 36 years.

Will it become the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?

“Women shall have equal rights in the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
On March 22, 1972, Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment in order to make gender equality a fundamental right. Ultimately, it was NOT added to the U.S. Constitution because not enough states ratified (approved) it.

Equal Rights Amendment

  • Introduced in 1923, three years after women got the right to vote.
  • Congress passed it in 1972 & gave the states 10 years to ratify.
  • By 1982, it fell 3 states short of the 3/4 of states required to add to constitution. Still, states have considered it over the years.
  • To date, it has been ratified by 37 of the 38 states needed, but some rescinded their ratification.

Do We Need It?

  • Arguments on both sides.
  • Equality of the sexes is NOT guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, although the 14th Amendment guarantees “equal protection” of the laws to all.
  • Equality of the sexes is protected under a series of state & federal laws (ex: Equal Pay Act). Laws can be overturned more easily than constitutional amendments.
“Every constitution written since the end of World War II includes a provision that men and women are citizens of equal stature. Ours does not… We just have the equal protection clause, which everyone knows was not meant in the 1860s to change anything with regard to women’s status. Women didn’t get to vote until 1920.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2005.
“Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t.”

The late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in 2011 when asked whether the 14th Amendment (equal protection clause) outlaws sex discrimination.

Illinois became the 37th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in 2018. 13 states (AL, AZ, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, MO, NC, OK, SC, UT, VA) have not. Ratification efforts recently failed in VA earlier this year; other states are considering it.

by Jenna Lee,