(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined a bipartisan group of Senators led by U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in a Senate effort to remove an arbitrary deadline that serves only to prevent the formal adoption of what should be the 28th Amendment to the Constitution – the Equal Rights Amendment.
When the Equal Rights Amendment itself was first passed by the Senate in 1972, Congress imposed an arbitrary seven-year deadline for states to ratify the Amendment. There is no deadline in the ERA itself, nor does Article V of the U.S. Constitution impose any such restriction on the ratification process for amendments. Congress later extended the ratification window for the ERA to 10-years, setting a precedent for such authority to revise the time period. Legal enactment of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution should take place two years after two-thirds of the House and Senate and three-quarters of the states ratify, which was reached following Virginia’s ratification two years ago this week. The 28th Amendment should have gone into effect on Thursday.
“It’s unacceptable that arbitrary deadlines are preventing our country from reaffirming women’s full equality under the law,” said Senator Shaheen. “Congress should act swiftly to remove this barrier that for too long has obstructed the adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment. What message do we send to other nations and fledgling democracies if we cannot bind in law our commitment to the principles we preach about equality? Congress can and must get this done.”
“Our country was built on the promise of equality, and it’s a promise we must work to live up to every day,” said Senator Hassan. “But the fact is that equal rights for women are still not enshrined in the Constitution, and we must change that. Three-quarters of states, as required, by the Constitution, have endorsed the ERA. Now it is incumbent on this Congress to allow the Amendment to become part of our Constitution, by removing the arbitrary deadline it placed on its passage.”
The states finally ratified the 27th Amendment in 1992 regarding Congressional pay raises more than 200 years after Congress proposed it in 1789 as part of the original Bill of Rights. The ERA time limit was contained in a joint resolution - not the actual text of the amendment.
The resolution led by the group of Senators is S.J.Res. 1, which would officially remove the deadline for ERA ratification, now has 52 cosponsors.