Governor Ducey opposed to equal rights for women under the Constitution

I recently posted that the ERA is one win away – Arizona can put it over the top next year.

The Equal Rights Amendment is now an issue in this year’s campaigns in Arizona. Governor Doug Ducey, the ice cream man hired by Koch Industries to run their Southwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Arizona, says “Meh, sorry ladies. I don’t think you need equal rights under the Constitution.” Ducey doesn’t favor Arizona ratifying Equal Rights Amendment:

Gov. Doug Ducey is not in favor of Arizona becoming the state that puts the Equal Rights Amendment into the U.S. Constitution.

Asked about the issue Monday, Ducey said Arizona already is “a land of opportunity” for all, including women. “I don’t know that that’s something that’s necessary for our state to be involved in at this time,” the Republican governor said.

“I think if you look at the employment numbers, if you look at the number of legislators we have by percentage, the number of governors that we’ve had across the country, the success in income growth across all spectrums inside the economy and our population, you’d see positive trends,” he said.

“And that’s something I’m going to continue to focus on.”

You should note that none of this word salad even remotely address the constitutional rights of women. I’m not sure that he even knows, let alone understands, the legal arguments for the ERA.

But you know who does? His campaign adviser, Cathi Herrod, from the Center for Arizona Policy. And “Cathi’s Clown” does as she tells him to do.

Technically speaking, Ducey has no say: Ratification is subject only to state House and Senate approval.

The governor, however, has the constitutional ability to call lawmakers into special session and get them to focus on an issue of his choosing. Ducey has no plans to do so.

He isn’t alone in his opposition. GOP leaders have used procedural maneuvers in each of the last two years to block the issue from getting to the House floor.

What has made the issue immediately relevant is that Illinois lawmakers voted late last month to ratify the amendment. That means action by one more state, a 38th state to ratify, is needed to put it into the Constitution.

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During floor debate last year, state Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley, D-Tucson, complained that her legislation to put Arizona on record in favor of the amendment never got a hearing. So she made a motion that the measure be brought to the full House for an immediate vote.

The maneuver caught GOP leaders by surprise.

But rather than simply allow a vote, Speaker J.D. Mesnard made a procedural motion to instead have the House recess. That was approved along party lines, denying Democrats the vote they sought — and effectively keeping Republicans from having to go on the record on whether they support or oppose the amendment.

Howard Fischer points out that Article 2, Section 36 of the Arizona Constitution provides:

Section 36. A. This state shall not grant preferential treatment to or discriminate against any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting. (emphasis added).

Similarly, the Arizona Civil Rights Act, A.R.S. Section 41-1463, provides:

B. It is an unlawful employment practice for an employer:

1. To fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to the individual’s compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment because of the individual’s race, color, religion, sex, age or national origin or on the basis of disability.

These laws address unlawful discrimination practices to supplement the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. These laws do not provide a general statement of  the “equal protection of the laws” for women under the Constitution, as Section 1 of the 14th Amendment did for newly freed slaves after the Civil War.

The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not protect against discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation, according to the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia: Women Don’t Have Constitutional Protection Against Discrimination.

As I have advised Rep. Powers Hannley, and others, there is no reason why an Equal Rights Amendment should not also be added to the Arizona Constitution for an extra layer of protection.

Where does Governor Ducey stand on this proposal? I’m sure Cathi Herrod has an answer for him.

UPDATE: Michelle Dorsey, vice president of the League of Women Voters of Arizona, writes at the Arizona Capitol Times, Legislators must make ERA priority in next session.

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