Attorney General James' Statement On Equal Rights Amendment Lawsuit

Attorney General James’ Statement on
Equal Rights Amendment Lawsuit

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James issued the following statement after the attorneys general of Illinois, Nevada, and Virginia yesterday filed a lawsuit against the federal government seeking to compel official recognition of the ratification of an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution:

“A century after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment giving women the constitutional right to vote, we are still waiting for our nation to bat down discrimination against women and recognize equal rights under the law. I proudly stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the women across this nation who yearn for equal treatment. The ratification of the ERA is long overdue, and now that 38 states have ratified the amendment, our coalition is stronger than ever.

“I thank the attorneys general of Illinois, Nevada, and Virginia for their courage in filing this lawsuit. In the coming weeks, I will be working with a coalition of attorneys general from around the nation to support this suit because we will never waver in our fight.”

The Equal Rights Amendment states that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex” — explicitly guaranteeing protection against discrimination based on sex. Though an equal rights amendment was proposed as early as 1923, the ERA was not adopted by Congress until 1972, when it passed with broad, bipartisan support. While Congress supported this bill, adding the ERA to the Constitution would guarantee equality for women for generations to come as the Constitution cannot be changed as easily as other laws.

A change to the U.S. Constitution requires three-fourths of the states to ratify the ERA. Earlier this week, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the ERA.

Yesterday’s lawsuit — filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia — asks the courts to order the archivist of the United States, who is responsible for certifying ratification, to "recognize the complete and final adoption" of the ERA as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution. The archivist declined to certify the amendment in accordance with an opinion issued by the U.S. Department of Justice stating that the deadline for passage of the ERA expired decades ago.