Wednesday, Apr 11, 2018

Legislation providing for the ratification of the federal Equal Rights Amendment has surfaced in the Illinois legislature – more than 35 years after the deadline set by Congress.

SJRCA 4 calls for Illinois to approve the ERA, requiring a three-fifths vote from both the Illinois Senate and the House. The measure requires no signature from the governor for final approval.

The ERA prohibits the denial of any civil right on the basis of sex. The measure was first introduced in 1923, but Congress did not adopt it until 1972, when federal lawmakers set a seven-year deadline for three-quarters of the states, or 38, to ratify it as an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Congress later extended the deadline to June 30, 1982, but the needed approval by the states was never met.

This is 2018 – what’s up with the renewed push?

ERA supporters believe the 1982 deadline is moot primarily since the 27th Amendment was ratified in 1992 – well after its original proposal in 1789. That amendment restricts congressional pay hikes from taking effect until after the subsequent election. However, no deadline was imposed on ratification for the 27th Amendment.  

A year ago, Nevada became the 36th state to ratify the ERA. But during the 1970s, five states rescinded their “yes” votes on the ERA.

Sound confusing – it is. If the measure ever receives ratification by two more states, it’s likely to end up in court.

Illinois lawmakers last summer finally approved a budget, after a two-year stalemate with the governor. The current spring session is slated to end on May 31, with the new fiscal year beginning on July 1. Let’s focus our attention on crafting a timely state budget that adequately funds social services, education, and public safety for the common good.