The Equal Rights Amendment is back. After Phyllis Schlafly helped to defeat it in the late 1970s, lawmakers are reviving the corpse. The same amendment, now named the “Women’s Equality Amendment,” recently passed Congress. The Senate will take it up; if it passes by a super-majority vote, it will go to the states. If two-thirds (i.e. 38) of the states ratify the Amendment, it would be law. There is the open question of whether or not the thirty-five states that ratified the ERA in the early 1970s would have to re-ratify it, or if there is really any deadline on ratification.
While this pachyderm is all for women’s rights – and would love to have an actual Constitutional basis for court decisions that mandate equality – she cannot stand behind the ERA as written. Twenty-five years ago, the indomitable Mrs. Schlafly argued that the ERA would result in women being drafted and unisex bathrooms. With calls by Charles Rangel to draft women (previously blogged here), interpretations of ERAs that mandate government funding for abortions, and a slew of decisions that erode single-sex education (even where it benefits women), it is plain that the amendment, as worded, should not pass.
If the wording of it was problematic twenty-five years ago, why not work around the problems and re-write it before voting on it again? Why make a second attempt at well-intentioned but poorly conceived legislation?