What is the ERA?
The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution that would expressly prohibit discrimination against girls and women on the basis of sex. The Constitution does not guarantee equal rights for women. As Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has stated: “Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t.”
Why do we need the ERA?
The ERA is an important statement of principle. The Constitution embodies the nation's core values. Equality between women and men is a fundamental human right that should be guaranteed in the Constitution.
Sex discrimination continues to limit equal opportunity and justice for women. Economic inequality, pregnancy discrimination, violence against women, and other forms of discrimination against women and girls are pervasive and leave women without effective legal recourse. State laws are not uniform and federal laws are not comprehensive. Moreover, these laws can be, and in some cases have been, rolled back anytime.
The Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution does not protect women from sex discrimination. The Fourteenth Amendment provides equal protection of the law, but it has been interpreted to require state action and the intent to discriminate. Much discrimination occurs through private action and is not intentional, making intent hard to prove. The Supreme Court reviews sex discrimination claims using intermediate rather than strict scrutiny, a lower standard of review than for racial and religious discrimination claims.
For more information on why we need the ERA: Why We Need the ERA 4-Pager
Help spread the word with an ad for the ERA: ERA Coalition Color Ad
The ERA was passed by Congress in 1972: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” By the time the deadline for state ratification ended in 1982, 35 states had ratified the amendment, just three states short of the number needed to put the ERA into the Constitution. Since then, the ERA has been reintroduced in Congress every session. Although polls indicate that more than 90% of Americans support the ERA, Congress has not once voted on it over the past thirty years.