The Equal Rights Amendment

April 3, 2020 • Volume 30, Issue 13
Should it be part of the Constitution?
By Lisa Rabasca Roepe


The fight over the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), passed by Congress almost half a century ago in 1972, was renewed in January when Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the measure. With that action, three-quarters of the states have now ratified the ERA, the number required to include the amendment in the Constitution. However, a congressionally established 1982 deadline for ratification has long since expired, and five states rescinded their ratifications in the 1970s. As a result, the Justice Department has declared the ERA no longer legally pending, and the National Archives and Records Administration has not certified adoption of the amendment. ERA opponents say it will eliminate protections for women, force them to serve in combat, ban single-sex bathrooms and institutions and outlaw abortion restrictions. Advocates of the amendment say it has nothing to do with abortion and will provide protection against gender-based discrimination, harassment and violence. A flurry of lawsuits has been filed by both sides, making it likely the Supreme Court will decide the ERA's fate.

Activists on both sides of the push for an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) (Getty Images/NurPhoto/Paul Hennessy)
Activists on both sides of the push for an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) face off in Orlando, Fla., in 2019. Although Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the ERA in January, its legal and constitutional status remains in doubt. (Getty Images/NurPhoto/Paul Hennessy)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Women's Rights
Apr. 03, 2020  The Equal Rights Amendment
Apr. 17, 2015  Girls' Rights
Apr. 03, 2012  Women's Rights
Nov. 13, 2009  Women in the Military
May 2008  Women's Rights
Mar. 21, 2008  Women in Politics
Feb. 28, 1997  Feminism's Future
Oct. 13, 1989  Should Women Be Allowed into Combat?
Jul. 28, 1989  Do Pregnant Women Lose Legal Rights?
Sep. 17, 1982  Women and Politics
Dec. 15, 1978  Equal Rights Fight
Jun. 23, 1978  The Rights Revolution
Jun. 13, 1975  International Women's Year
Jul. 05, 1973  Women's Consciousness Raising
Oct. 11, 1972  Women Voters
Aug. 05, 1970  Status of Women
Feb. 20, 1956  Women in Politics
Jan. 24, 1951  Womanpower in Mobilization
Apr. 04, 1946  Equal Rights Amendment
May 31, 1927  The Woman's Vote in National Elections
Abortion, Contraception and Reproductive Issues
Campaigns and Elections
Civil Rights and Civil Liberty Issues
Civil Rights: Women
Congress Actions
Conservatism and Liberalism
Domestic Issues
Federal Courts
Lobbying and Special Interests
Party Politics
Party Politics
Powers and History of the Presidency
Protest Movements
Supreme Court History and Decisions
Women in the Military
Women in the Workplace
Work and the Family