• Foundations of Truth

Dear Congress, The ERA “Deadline” Means “Deadline”

The wisdom of Proverbs 10:9 notes, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.” Integrity is characterized by consistency and acting in the best interest of those who have placed their trust in you. Unfortunately, Congress has failed to demonstrate that integrity.

In 1972, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was passed by Congress and then sent to the states for ratification. A total of three-fourths of the states are required to ratify the amendment before it can become law, however, that number was never reached. Only 36 states have ever voted to ratify the amendment, with 5 of those states rescinding their ratification. Nonetheless, if the rescissions are ignored by Congress, earlier this year Virginia become the last state necessary to ratify the ERA.[1] And there is one more catch: the deadline for ratification ended in 1982.

In response, the House has controversially passed legislation to extend the deadline to the present era.[2] Trying to revive a 48-year-old amendment that is 38 years past its deadline goes against the principles of a democratic Congress because deadlines are apparently meaningless if they can be retroactively changed. Furthermore, many believe the act itself is not in the best interest of the American people.

Despite its appealing title, the broad language of the ERA itself could also be detrimental to American society. Section 1 of the ERA says: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” [3] At first, this does not look objectionable but, if we look deeper, the amendment’s language is very concerning.

First, the term “sex” as it is used in the amendment raises difficult legal questions in an era defined by a crusade for LGBTQ rights. Should the term “sex” be interpreted to prohibit discrimination based on cis/trans-gender status? What about sexuality? Surely those thoughts were not in the minds of the original authors! Nonetheless, these very questions were being considered before the Supreme Court this year and last month the Court decided to redefine the term “sex” to include all of these concepts. This was not what the writers of the ERA in 1972, nor all of the states who originally ratified the ERA.[4]

Secondly, the ERA’s prohibition on all discrimination could prevent common sense differences in treatment between men and women that are based on biology. For example, the Supreme Court has previously ruled that, in cases where pregnancy made a federal employee unable to safely perform their job, preventing them from continuing in their previous duties was allowable. [5] This fact is relevant because the undefined term “equality of rights” in the ERA could lead to a legal situation that prohibited that appropriate and differing treatment.

Performing legal gymnastics to pass a Constitutional amendment that is almost four decades past its deadline is ridiculous, especially since the ERA is so poorly written. Congress should heed the words of Proverbs and consider their own integrity before taking such unusual measures to push through a badly written change to the Constitution.

Foundations of Truth hereby waives all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, published, edited, and distributed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to Foundations of Truth.

[1] https://www.washingtonian.com/2020/02/05/virginia-and-the-equal-rights-amendment/ [2] https://www.npr.org/2020/02/13/805647054/house-votes-to-revive-equal-rights-amendment-removing-ratification-deadline [3] “Proposed Amendment To The Constitution Of The United States,” GovInfo (n.d.), https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/STATUTE-86/pdf/STATUTE-86-Pg1523.pdf#page=1 [4] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/supreme-court-lgbt-rights-discrimination-rules-title-vii/ [5] “United Automobile Workers v. Johnson Controls, 499 U.S. 187 (1991),” Justia (n.d.), https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/499/187/

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