May 2, 2023

ERA Revival Resolution Defeated Again in US Senate

On April 25, a measure claiming to revive the long-dead Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) by retroactively removing its ratification deadline failed in the Senate. While this may not have been the intent of its writers, the 1972 ERA is now interpreted by many to create a constitutional right to abortion. 

The Senate voted 51-47 in favor of the amendment, but 60 votes were required to end debate and bring the measure to a floor vote. Even if the resolution passed in the Senate, it was almost certainly doomed in the House.

The vote was mainly along party lines. Republicans Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Susan Collins (ME) sided with Democrats in favor of the resolution.

To ratify an amendment, it must be approved by three-quarters of the states. The ERA contained a ratification deadline of June 30, 1982, but several states decided to hold sham votes claiming to approve the amendment after this deadline. Between 2017 and 2020, the state legislatures of Illinois, Nevada, and Virginia voted to approve the amendment. These states then claimed that the two-thirds majority had been reached, and the amendment should be added to the US Constitution.

Judges appointed by Obama, Trump, and Biden have all ruled against the legality of such ratification efforts. The most recent ruling was in February by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The case was unanimously decided by a panel of judges appointed by all three presidents.

Additionally, six states have voted to rescind their ratifications. Five did so before the original ratification deadline, and North Dakota voted to do so in 2021.