January 25, 2019

Cardin, Murkowski Introduce Bipartisan Measure to Ensure Women Equal Rights in the Constitution

Removal of the arbitrary congressional deadline and ratification by one more state would achieve full equality under the law for women in the United States of America

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) announced Friday the introduction of a Senate Resolution (S. J. Res. 6) that would immediately reopen consideration of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Thirty-seven states, of the 38 needed, have already ratified the amendment, which was first proposed in 1972. Illinois was the last state to ratify the ERA in May 2018. Nevada ratified the ERA in March 2017. Only one more state is needed among: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, or Virginia.  

Read Senator Murkowski’s and Senator Cardin’s joint op-ed in The Washington Post here.

The Cardin-Murkowski resolution would immediately remove the ratification deadline and revive the consideration of the ERA by the states, finally guaranteeing full and equal protections to women in the Constitution. Article V of the Constitution contains no time limits for ratification of amendments, and the states finally ratified the Twenty-Seventh Amendment in 1992 regarding Congressional pay raises more than 200 years after Congress proposed it in 1789 as part of the original Bill of Rights.  The ERA time limit was contained in a joint resolution, not the actual text of the amendment, and Congress has already once voted to extend the ERA ratification deadline.

“Nearly 100 years after women fought for and earned the right to vote, most Americans are shocked to realize that the U.S. Constitution does not already guarantee women the same rights and protections as men. It’s long past time for us to correct this injustice and recognize the equality of women under the law.,” said Senator Cardin. “What better way to set a positive tone for a new Congress than to take clear steps to fix a long-standing slight to America’s women. I’m proud to work with Senator Murkowski to move this essential legislation over the finish line.”

“In order for the ERA to be incorporated into the Constitution, we need 38 states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. As of now, we have 37. The bipartisan legislation I’m leading, alongside Senator Cardin, will resolve any ambiguity over whether states can make the ERA effective by ratifying. We cannot and must not put a time limit on the fight for women’s equality,” Senator Murkowski said.

The Equal Rights Amendment is slightly longer than a tweet but would finally give women full and equal protection under the Constitution. It reads as follows:

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.

The amendment gives power to Congress to enforce its provisions by appropriate legislation, as is customary with civil rights legislation, and the amendment would take effect two years after ratification.

“Today, nearly half of the states in America have a version of the ERA written into their state constitutions. In Maryland, the constitution reads that ‘Equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged or denied because of sex,’” said Senator Cardin. “Those sentiments also represent the present-day views of the vast majority of people across America and are the spirit that underpins this legislation. Congress should give the states another chance to ratify the ERA.”

“The Equal Rights Amendment is as important in the fight for women’s equality as it was on April 5, 1972, when Alaska ratified,” said Senator Murkowski. “Women’s equality is fundamental to the American way of life and needs to be expressly recognized in the Constitution.”