By Dave Lindorff
Here’s a big deal that’s bound to become a lot bigger this year.
Exactly 100 years after women finally won the vote with ratification of a 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, the state legislature of Virginia on January 15 finally became the needed 38th state of the Union to ratify the proposed Equal Rights Amendment, a measure designed to guarantee full equal rights to women in all matters .Such a change in the Constitution requires ratification by the legislatures of three-quarters of the 50 states.
The measure passed in Virginia because court-ordered redistricting before the last legislative election, held there last year, undid serious gerrymandering and led to a historic takeover of the long Republican-held legislature by Democratic majorities. It’s a big win, but the battle for adding the ERA to the Constitution is not over yet.
It’s been a long struggle since the ERA was first authored in 1923 by pioneering feminists Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman, who called it the Lucretia Mott Amendment. The measure was renamed the Equal Rights Amendment in 1943.
In 1972, Congress finally passed the ERA as a proposed Constitutional Amendment and sent it on to the states for legislative ratification. It was at that time immensely popular, feminism was huge and popular movement, and the ERA won ratification in 22 legislatures the first year out of the gate. After that progress slowed, however, and finally stalled at 35 state legislative ratifications.
The initial ERA measure passed by Congress included a deadline of 1977 for passage. Congress extended that to June 30. 1982. but the longer deadline didn’t help. By then of course, Ronald Reagan had won the presidency and his Republican Party had taken control of the Senate too. That party, since the time of Richard Nixon’s presidency, had become firmly wedded to the largely anti-feminist fundamentalist Christian movement. Indeed, even as support for the ERA was surging, in some rural, conservative and heavily “christian” states, a counter movement against ratification began, as early as 1973. As a result, in the period between that year and 1979, legislatures in five solidly Republican states which had earlier voted to ratify — Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, Tennessee, and South Dakota — voted to rescind their ratification votes.
Only recently, energized liberals and progressives and supporters of women’s rights managed to push through successful ratification votes in additional states, with victories finally won in Nevada (2017), Illinois (2018). This past Wednesday they added Virginia.
President Trump’s Bible-thumping, Rapture-believing Attorney General’s office promptly issued a statement saying that the Virginia legislature’s overwhelming approval of the ERA amendment didn’t mean anything because “the 1982 deadline has already passed” for the state ratification process.
This controversial position by the Trump “Justice” Department insures that the amendment will now head for the courts, which will have to decide whether the Congressional ratification deadline of 1982 carries any weight (there is no mention of deadlines for state ratification of amendments or of later recision votes in the Constitution)…
For the rest of this article by DAVE LINDORFF in ThisCantBeHappening!, the uncompromised, collectively run, six-time Project Censored Award-winning alternative news site, please go to: https://thiscantbehappening.net/the-equal-rights-amendment-just-got-the-support-of-the-needed-38th-state/