Democrats Try Extra-Constitutional Plan To Revive ERA

Lady Justice

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Our friend Bob Marshall recently alerted us to the seriousness of Democrat attempts to revive the long-dead Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The ERA, which was approved by Congress in 1972, needed to be ratified by two-thirds of the states for it to become law. But the measure fell three states short by the original deadline of 1979; a deadline extension to 1982 did not result in any more ratifications.


Now, radical feminists and Far Left Democrats are trying to revive the ERA without going back to Congress and passing a new proposed constitutional amendment. Democrat Rep. Jackie Speier (CA-14) has introduced H.J.Res.38 in an attempt to bypass the biggest constitutional roadblock to the ERA’s revival, the 1982 deadline, which she proposes to remove from the existing law.

Democrat Senator Benjamin Cardin of Maryland has introduced a similar resolution, S.J.Res.6, to attempt to accomplish the same extra-constitutional goal.


To alert conservatives to the threat and cut-off this extra-constitutional effort to revive the ERA, Mr. Marshall sent the following letter to Attorney General William Barr.

Honorable William Barr
Attorney General – US Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Re: 3 state “extension” of Equal Rights Amendment

Dear Attorney General Barr:

In light of congressional efforts, such as H. J. Res. 38 with 191 co-sponsors, claiming only one more state is needed to ratify the expired ERA, I urge you to please ask the Office of Legal Counsel to issue a legal opinion on the matter. ERA proponents pretend that “ratifications” by Nevada in 2017, and Illinois in 2018, can be counted along with the original 35 states that ratified the ERA before even its proponents admit it expired on June 30, 1982. They now claim to need only one more state to finally “ratify” the Equal Rights Amendment.

We would appreciate your donation.

A purported ERA “ratification” measure failed by only one vote in the Virginia General Assembly this year.

In the face of this extra-constitutional effort, I would hope that your Office of Legal Counsel could make a definitive statement, similar to that done by John Harmon in 1977 when he wrote to the Hon. Robert Lipschutz, counsel to President Jimmy Carter:

“Certainly, if a time limit has expired before an intervening Congress has taken action to extend that limit, a strong argument could be made that the only constitutional means of reviving a proposed amendment would be to propose the amendment anew by two-thirds vote of each House…

[C]omments on the floor of the House and Senate generally assume that the seven-year period was a limitation on the time in which ratification could occur. … Congresswoman Griffiths … ‘I think it is perfectly proper to have the 7-year statute so that it should not be hanging around over our head forever. … Senator Hartke, a supporter of the resolution, stated …‘if there is such a delay [beyond seven years], then we must begin the entire process once again.’”

[Memo, John M. Harmon, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, Justice Department, to Hon. Robert Lipschutz, Counsel to the President, 10/31/77, (See, Equal Rights Amendment Extension, Senate Judiciary SubCommittee, S. J. Res. 134, August, 1978), p. 82, 85]

Further, prominent ERA supporters held that if the ERA ratification time limit was not extended before the initial deadline of March 22, 1979, the 1972 ERA could not be revived.

Lawrence Tribe, counsel for the National Organization for Women, noted that if the seven-year limit expired before, “Congress took action to extend that limit or before the thirty-eighth state took action purportedly ratifying the ERA, it would be arguable that the amendment should be regarded as incapable of such belated resurrection.”
[Equal Rights Amendment Extension Hearings Senate Judiciary Subcommittee, on S. J. Res. 134, August 3, 1978, p. 245, prepared testimony]

Rep. Volkmer (D-MO) : “…in the event we did not extend by March 22, 1979 do you have an opinion as to whether Congress could open it up again for ratification?

Rep. Barbara Jordan (D-TX): “ …Congressman Volkmer, the time will have expired for that resolution, and I do not feel that would be a viable issue for consideration by the Congress because the resolution would, for all intents and purposes, be dead.”

[Equal Rights Committee Judiciary Sub Committee, Equal Rights Amendments Extension Hearing, H. J. Res. 638, p. 242]

Congressman Robert Drinan (D-MA), a Catholic priest, Judiciary Committee member and former law professor stated: “We have two choices. We can extend the original period, or we can have a renewal of the entire ERA beginning next March. We can have an extension of the present ‘ball game,’ or we can have a new ‘ball game.’”

[House of Representatives Floor Debate, 7/15/78 ERA extension, Congressional Record, p. 26215]

“Mr. Butler. Suppose we were to begin again and, in the process, we said that for purposes of the ratification contemplated by this resolution, those States which have previously ratified will be deemed to have ratified this resolution?

Professor Tribe. Let me make sure I understand that. This resolution would say States that have already ratified need not vote again?

Mr. Butler. That is right.

Professor Tribe. Well, that is what is meant by a time extension.

Mr. Butler. No; an original resolution, starting all over again, requiring two-thirds vote in the Congress, then submitting identical language to the States.

Professor Tribe. But saying that States that previously ratified need not ratify this new amendment?

Mr. Butler. Right.

Professor Tribe. That would surely violate article V.”

[Equal Rights Amendment Extension, Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights, H. J. Res. 638, 11/1/77, p. 53]

Thank you for your dedication and perseverance in service. My family prays for you.

Having previously served for 26 years as an elected member of Virginia’s General Assembly, and congressional assistant for two Republicans and one Democrat-Farm Labor member, if I can ever be of service, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Robert Marshall

Former Member, Virginia House of Delegates

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views the Virginia Christian Alliance

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