Press Release

January 18, 2017
Cardin Measure Would Immediately Revive Consideration of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)
As hundreds of thousands of Americans prepare to attend the Women's March on Washington, Senator urges national guarantee of full equality

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today announced the formal reintroduction of a resolution, S.J. Res. 5, to immediately revive the consideration of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which needs to be ratified by only three additional states to ensure our Constitution finally guarantees full and equal protections to women. Senator Cardin’s ERA resolution has the active support of the ERA Coalition, an umbrella organization comprised of dozens of civil and human rights organizations. The reintroduction comes just days before hundreds of thousands of women and men are expected in our Nation’s Capital for the Women’s March on Washington. Senator Cardin plans to participate in the march with three generations of Cardin women: his wife, daughter and granddaughters.

“I think many Americans would be shocked to find out that the U.S. Constitution still lacks a provision ensuring gender equality. Think about that: in 2017, women lack the same constitutional protections as men. This is clearly wrong and needs permanent correction,” said Senator Cardin. “America was built on the promise of equal rights. Our history is defined by groups struggling to achieve full equality under the law.  It’s long past time for us to recognize the equality of women in our fundamental governing documents.”

When Congress proposed 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 10 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. To put that in context, in 1992, the 27th Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits immediate Congressional pay raises, was ratified after 203 years. Senator Cardin’s legislation would immediately remove the ratification deadline and revive the consideration of the ERA by the states.

The Equal Rights Amendment is slightly longer than two tweets 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.

“Article V of the Constitution contains no time limits for ratification of amendments, and the ERA time limit was contained in a joint resolution, not the actual text of the amendment. The Senate could pass my legislation removing the 10-year deadline right now,” said Senator Cardin.  “I hope that the Majority Leader will bring this legislation up for a vote because American women deserve to know that their most fundamental rights are explicitly protected by our nation’s most venerated document. And what better way to set a positive tone for a new Congress and presidential administration than to take clear steps to fix a long-standing slight to America’s women.” 

The amendment gives power to Congress to enforce its provisions by appropriate 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, my home state, 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 and correct this historical injustice.” 

Representative Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) will once again introduce the House companion version of this legislation shortly. Senator Cardin’s legislation is part of a two-track approach to ERA ratification, with Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) also preparing to introduce legislation to revive consideration of the ERA. As Senator Cardin’s resolution would remove the deadline for states to ratify the ERA, which has already been ratified by 35 states, Senator Menendez’s resolution would begin the process anew, giving all states a fresh opportunity to voice their support for women’s equality.

The 20 senators listed below have joined Senator Cardin’s resolution as original co-sponsors. Additional cosponsors will be added during upcoming legislative days.

Sen Baldwin, Tammy [D-Wisc.]
Sen Booker, Cory A. [D-N.J.]
Sen Brown, Sherrod [D-Ohio] 
Sen Feinstein, Dianne [D-Calif.] 
Sen Franken, Al [D-Minn.]
Sen Gillibrand, Kirsten E. [D-N.Y.]
Sen Kaine, Tim [D-Va.]
Sen Klobuchar, Amy [D-Minn.]
Sen Markey, Edward J. [D-Mass.]
Sen Menendez, Robert [D-N.J.] 
Sen Merkley, Jeff [D-Ore.]
Sen Reed, Jack [D-R.I.]
Sen Sanders, Bernard [I-Vt.]
Sen Stabenow, Debbie [D-Mich.]
Sen Udall, Tom [D-N.M.]
Sen Van Hollen, Chris [D-Md.]
Sen Warner, Mark R. [D-Va.]
Sen Warren, Elizabeth [D-Mass.]
Sen Whitehouse, Sheldon [D-R.I.]
Sen Wyden, Ron [D-Ore.]