Press Release

March 22, 2012

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) today introduced a joint resolution to remove the deadline for the states’ ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).  U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA),  Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) are cosponsoring the bill.  Representative Tammy Baldwin has introduced similar legislation, H.J. Res. 47, in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Women have made tremendous advances in this country, but America still has not realized its promise of equal protection under the law for men and women,” said Senator Cardin.  “Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment would at last make equality for women explicitly clear in our Constitution.  We’re only three states short of victory and cannot afford to give up the fight on the 40th anniversary of the Senate’s passage of the ERA.  An arbitrary deadline for state ratification of the ERA should not stand in the way of equal rights for our mothers, wives and daughters.”

 When Congress passed the ERA in 1972, it provided that the measure had to be ratified by three-fourths of the states (38) within seven years.  This deadline was later extended to ten years by a joint resolution enacted by Congress, but ultimately only 35 out of 38 states had ratified the ERA when the deadline expired in 1982.

Senator Cardin’s joint resolution would give states another chance by removing the deadline set by Congress for ratification of the ERA.  The Constitution contains no time limits for ratification of constitutional amendments, and the 27th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting immediate Congressional pay raises was ratified after 203 years.

Nearly half of states today have a version of the ERA written into their state constitution.  Additionally, numerous groups have endorsed Cardin’s legislation, including United 4 Equality, the National Council of Women’s Organizations, and the National Organization for Women.