Let’s pass the Equal Rights Amendment

Loryn Kykendall

Imagine a world where women are paid the same as men. Where women have the right to do what they choose with their bodies. Where they have equal rights. It feels like it’s just around the corner—like we’re almost there.

But that’s what people thought in 1923 when the Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced. 

And that’s what they thought in 1972 when Congress finally passed it.

But here we are in 2022, and it’s still not in our constitution.

The ERA should be ratified as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution.

The ERA is short and simple. It states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”

What this means is that if the ERA was a constitutional amendment, no laws could be made to inhibit equal rights based on sex.

According to the ERA website, the ratification of the ERA would establish a clear judicial standard for cases dealing with sex discrimination. Abortion laws like the Texas Heartbeat Act, which prevents women from getting an abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, would be less likely to exist.

The ERA hasn’t become a constitutional amendment after all this time because states have been slow to embrace it. For an amendment to be ratified, Congress has to pass it first with a two-thirds majority. Then three-fourths of the states have to ratify it by a set deadline. When the original deadline—1977—came around, only 35 out of the 38 needed states had ratified the ERA. But the deadline was extended to 1982.

When 1982 approached, still too few states had ratified the amendment and the deadline expired. But then Nevada and Illinois ratified the ERA followed by Virgina in 2020. Finally, enough states ratified the amendment so it could be added to the Constitution. But that didn’t change the fact that the deadline expired in 1982. So now, two years after the 38th state ratified the ERA, it still isn’t in our constitution.

While some might argue that the ERA shouldn’t be added to the Constitution because it didn’t meet the deadline, the time limit shouldn’t matter.