Why is AAUW of Arizona supporting the introduction of the ERA to the Arizona Legislature in 2018?
The 1972 ERA was given a deadline by which time the necessary 38 states would be required to approve this amendment to the US Constitution, but it failed by three states to get the necessary votes. The women’s movement began an alternative plan to win the rights women seek on a case by case basis. This was expensive and time consuming.
Beginning in the mid 1990s, ERA proponents began an effort to win ratification of the ERA by the legislatures of states that did not ratify it between 1972 and 1982. These proponents claim that Congress can remove the ERA’s ratification deadline despite the deadline having expired, allowing the states again to ratify it. They also claim that the ratifications ERA previously received remain valid. Proponents of the three-state strategy have promoted ratification resolutions in the legislatures of most of the 15 states that never ratified the ERA before the time limit on its ratification expired.
On June 21, 2009, the National Organization for Women decided to support both efforts to obtain new ratifications and any strategy to submit a new ERA to the states for ratification. In 2013, the Library of Congress‘s Congressional Research Service issued a report saying that ratification deadlines are a political question.
ERA proponents claim that the Supreme Court’s decision in Coleman v. Miller gives Congress wide discretion in setting conditions for the ratification process. Recently, ERA Action has both led and brought renewed vigor to the movement by instituting what has become known as the “three state strategy”. It was in 2013 that ERA Action began to gain traction with this strategy through their coordination with Senate and House members not only to introduce legislation in both chambers to remove the ratification deadline, but also in gaining legislative sponsors. The Congressional Research Service then issued a report on the “three state strategy” on April 8, 2013 entitled “The Proposed Equal Rights Amendment: Contemporary Ratification Issues,” stating that the approach was viable.
In 2014, under the auspices of ERA Action and their coalition partners, both the Virginia and Illinois state senates voted to ratify the ERA; however, votes were blocked in both states’ House chambers. In the meantime, the ERA ratification movement continued with the resolution being introduced in 10 state legislatures. Then, on March 22, 2017, the Nevada legislature became the first state in 40 years to ratify the ERA, and Illinois began to see movement again as well.
Currently, there is a bill in the US House of Representatives to extend the original deadline for passage of the ERA and AAUW of Arizona is urging its congressmen and women to sign on to the bill. So far, CD 1 Rep. Tom O’Halleran has signed on as a sponsor.
Finally, AAUW of Arizona is joining our national organization to get the ERA passed by the Arizona Legislature this year and is asking each of our legislators to pledge their vote to pass the bill this year. We hope to be one of the three states to put the vote over the top. Rep. Pamela Power Hannley will introduce the bill in 2018, and will be the featured speaker at our AAUW of Arizona Legislature Day February 20, 2018.