Bipartisan group of Arizona legislators support passage of the Equal Rights Amendment

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Last July, I did a post about the 90th Anniversary of the Equal Rights Amendment:

You would never know it today by the religious zealots who have hijacked the GOP, but not that long ago the Republican Party had a very active Republican Women for Choice organization, and women for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which included First Lady Betty Ford. The ERA came up short of passage in 1982, under the deadline established by Congress.

BettyFord

First Ladies Rosalynn Carter and Betty Ford at a rally for ERA, 11/19/1977.

People have forgotten what was at stake in the fight over the ERA. Justice Antonin Scalia has a long history of expressing skepticism toward the Constitution’s shield against laws that discriminate against women. He he has repeatedly claimed that the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of “equal protection of the laws” does not prevent gender discrimination:

“Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws.”

Justice Scalia is correct. The 14th Amendment was intended to eliminate the vestiges of slavery and racial discrimination in America (freed slaves and Chinese immigrants in California were the focus of the congressional debate). Equal rights for women was not debated by Congress.

Because there is no express prohibition of discrimination on the basis of gender in the Constitution, this is what allows radical Tea-Publican state legislatures to render women second-class citizens to their fetus during pregnancy (at the same time, these religious zealots pursue a "personhood amendment" intended to give full constitutional rights to the fetus from the moment of conception).

If there was an express prohibition of discrimination on the basis of gender in the Constitution, the constitutional standard of review for these statutes would be the "strict scrutiny" standard of review — the state would have to demonstrate a compelling state interest. This could be a game changer. Women would be entitled to constitutional "equal protection" and "due process." Religious zealots like Phyllis Schlafly and her Eagle Forum, which worked to prevent passage of the ERA, fully understood this result.

July 21, 2013 marks the 90th Anniversary of the Equal Rights Amendment’s (ERA) introduction. The Progressive Democrats of America have a strategy to pass the ERA. PDA Supports the Equal Rights Amendment.

Rep. Victoria Steele (D-Tucson) has introduced HCR 2016 (.pdf), a resolution recommending the ratification of the federal Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It has bipartisan support among its cosponsors. HCR 2016 reads:

Whereas, the Congress of the United States, on March 22, 1972, in both houses, by a constitutional majority of two-thirds in both houses, adopted the following proposition to amend the Constitution of the United States in the following words, to wit:

HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION 208

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to equal rights for men and women. 

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That

The following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three‑fourths of the several States within seven years of its submission by the Congress:

Section 1.  Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3.  This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

Therefore

Be it resolved by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:

1.  That this proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United States is ratified.

2.  That the Secretary of State of the State of Arizona transmit a copy of this Resolution to the President of the United States Senate and the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.

The ERA has been stalled since 1982, 3 states short of the 38 required to ratify a Constitutional Amendment. This unjust delay is largely due to an arbitrary deadline that was placed on ERA ratification. Joint Resolutions—SJRES15 and HJRES43—to remove the ERA’s ratification deadline, allowing time to gain the support of 3 of the 15 un-ratified states, was introduced on May 9, 2013 in Congress.

I commented last July:

There is no reason why a companion ERA Amendment could not be added to the Arizona Constitution as well, which would afford women the same constitutional protections. The legislature can refer the amendment to the voters, or a citizens initiative can put the measure on the ballot. I would encourage our Democratic Caucus in the state legislature to pursue this state constitutional amendment. It is long past time to finish the long civil rights struggle to grant women equal rights under the Constitution.

I encourage the Arizona Legislature to take this additional step. Put an ERA Amendment to the Arizona Constitution on the 2014 ballot.

5 responses to “Bipartisan group of Arizona legislators support passage of the Equal Rights Amendment

  1. My point exactly! Thank you for your legal acumen.

  2. Scalia is correct when he says the 14th Amendment doesn’t cover sex discrimination. Even though it begins with the words, “All persons” in Section 1 it does not really mean “all persons” because Section 2 uses the word male three times. And, that is the way the Supreme Court interpreted it two notorious cases Minor v Happerstett and Illinois v Bradwell.. Since then there have been some cases of discrimination where the US Supreme Court found in favor of ending the discrimination. But women shouldn’t have to depend on the whim of the Court. They need a clear stated Amendment to the Constitution.

  3. You can search the bill at the Arizona Legislature web site, http://www.azleg.gov.

    The principal sponsors of HCR 2016 are: Rep. Victoria Steele (D), Rep. Lela Alston (D), Rep. Chad Campbell (D), Rep. Mark Cardenas (D), Rep. Rosanna Gabaldon (D), Rep. Ruben Gallego (D), Rep. Lydia Herandez (D), Rep. Martin Quezada (D), Sen Katie Hobbs (D), Sen. Lynne Pancrazi (D).

    The cosponsors are: Rep. Karen Fann (R), Rep. Debbie McCune Davis (D), Rep. Juan Mendez (D), Rep. Eric Meyer (D), Rep. Catherine Miranda (D), Rep. Ethan Orr (R), Rep. Macario Saldate (D), Rep. Kelly Townsend (R), Rep. Michelle Ugenti (R), Rep. Bruce Wheeler (D), Sen. Carlyle Begay (D), Sen. Anna Tovar (D).

  4. United 4 Equality

    As the author of the ERA bills in Congress that you reference, SJR 15 and HJR 43, we are pleased to hear of this exciting development and would like to know who are the bipartisan cosponsors in AZ. Do you have that information? Thanks.

  5. So you’re an entrails-reading “originalist” too?

    “Justice Scalia is correct. The 14th Amendment was intended to eliminate the vestiges of slavery and racial discrimination in America (freed slaves and Chinese immigrants in California were the focus of the congressional debate). Equal rights for women was not debated by Congress.”

    No he is not correct. That may have been the focus of the debate, but the plain text of the 14th amendment reads:

    “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

    No mention is made about freed slaves, Chinese laborers or any other such irrelevant verbiage.

    Equal protections of the laws means just that, equal protection under the law.

    Period.

    People who don’t like it can go pound sand or pass an amendment themselves to the contrary.