Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

For Immediate Release

Contact

Press Release

Coalition Urges DOJ to Instruct the National Archivist to Publish the Equal Rights Amendment in the Constitution

In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, organizations call for reversing Trump-era DOJ opinion which had blocked the recording of the ERA, the Constitutional amendment banning sex and gender discrimination
WASHINGTON -

Free Speech For People, Generation Ratify, and six other organizations today issued a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, urging him to instruct the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) to rescind its January 6, 2020 advisory opinion regarding the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The Archivist of the United States is responsible for publishing and certifying the Equal Rights Amendment as the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but has declined to do so in deference to the OLC opinion. Rescinding this erroneous opinion will clear the way for the Archivist to publish and certify the ERA.

Under the direction of former Attorney General Bill Barr, the OLC argued that the ERA has not and cannot be properly ratified because only 35 states ratified the ERA prior to the expiration of an extra-constitutional seven-year ratification deadline imposed in 1972. This deadline, however, was not included in the text of the amendment passed by Congress and ratified by the states and, as such, lacks any constitutional authority. Nevada, Illinois, and Virginia have since ratified the amendment, satisfying the constitutional requirement that a proposed amendment be ratified by three-fourths of the states. As the letter explains, the omission of this deadline in the text of the amendment means the ERA remained eligible for ratification and inclusion in the Constitution.

The letter further explains that the advisory opinion was not merely wrongly decided. It should be rescinded because the OLC lacked the authority to block the Archivist from carrying out his duties related to the constitutional amendment.

“The Department of Justice is not, and should not be considered, a gatekeeper on the legal validity of an amendment,” the letter, authored by Free Speech For People, argues. “Article V [of the U.S. Constitution] expressly assigns the constitutional amendment process to Congress and the states, and the executive branch plays no role in the process of either proposing or ratifying amendments.”

“Nowhere in Article V nor in any other provision does the Constitution provide Congress with authority to impose a deadline on ratification or to otherwise alter the Article V’s unqualified command that an amendment proposed by Congress shall be a valid part of the Constitution ‘when ratified’ by three-fourths of the states.”

The United States currently lacks explicit federal constitutional protection against discrimination on the basis of sex. The ERA would correct this, by ensuring that “[e]quality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Originally drafted by suffragists Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman in 1923 and passed by Congress in 1972, the Equal Rights Amendment was deterred by a national conservative campaign against it, led most notably by Phyllis Schlafly.

“The certification of the Equal Rights Amendment will have wide-reaching, material impacts on the lives of all Americans,” Generation Ratify told its followers in a statement on the letter. “It is intersectional with economic justice, racial justice, queer liberation, climate justice, and so much more.”

In addition to Free Speech For People and Generation Ratify, other organizational signatories to the letter include: Engendered Collective, End Rape on Campus, Gen Z Girl Gang, DC Teens Action, The Greater Good Initiative, and Not My Generation.

Read the letter here

 

###

Free Speech for People

Free Speech For People is a national non-partisan non-profit organization founded on the day of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v. FEC that works to defend our democracy and our Constitution.

WATCH LIVE: Bernie Sanders Headlines Get-Out-the-Vote Rally for Nina Turner

"We've got a billionaire-funded super PAC shelling out millions to stop our justice journey," Turner said ahead of the rally. "They're running scared, but we're running strong."

Jake Johnson ·


Bush, Pressley, and Omar Sleep Outside Capitol to Demand Extension of Eviction Moratorium

Rep. Cori Bush, who was formerly unhoused, slammed her Democratic colleagues who "chose to go on vacation early today rather than staying to vote to keep people in their homes."

Jake Johnson ·


As Progressives Call for End to Blockade, Biden Announces More Sanctions Against Cuba

The move comes after Democratic leadership in the House blocked an amendment to roll back limits on how much money people in the United States can send to family on the island nation.

Jessica Corbett ·


Progressives Issue Dire Warning as House Bill to Extend Eviction Moratorium Dies

"If Congress does not act now, the fallout of the eviction crisis will undoubtedly set us backwards as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravish our communities, needlessly contributing to more death and destruction."

Brett Wilkins ·


Citing Donziger Case, Dems Raise Alarm About Use of Private Prosecutors in Federal Court

Private prosecutions of criminal contempt charges, said a pair of senators, "are highly unusual and can raise concerning questions of fundamental fairness in our criminal justice system."

Jessica Corbett ·