We all could use a little good news today.
Both chambers of Virginia’s General Assembly passed the Equal Rights Amendment Wednesday, fulfilling a promise that helped Democrats seize control of the legislature and marking a watershed moment in the nearly century-long effort to add protections for women to the U.S. Constitution. ‘A long time to wait’: Virginia passes Equal Rights Amendment in historic vote:
The lopsided votes capped an emotional week in which Democrats — particularly female lawmakers, who now hold unprecedented positions of power in Richmond — celebrated history in the making.
It passed there on a 59-41 vote presided over by Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, the first female House speaker in the chamber’s 400-year history. Spectators in the gallery erupted in the cheers as she announced the outcome. The Senate then passed it 28-12.
The House gallery was packed beyond its 102-seat capacity, with Virginia first lady Pam Northam and her daughter, Aubrey Northam, making a rare appearance to bear witness. ERA supporters attended from around the country, many wearing sashes from long-ago marches for women’s equality.
“What happens in Virginia impacts the entire country and will reverberate across the globe,” said Betty Folliard, the founder of ERA Minnesota, who traveled to Richmond to watch the votes.
Numerous legal hurdles still have to be cleared before the ERA, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, would become part of the Constitution. Critics say various deadlines for ratification have long since passed.
But supporters were jubilant that Virginia, after years of failure, is poised to become the 38th state to approve the amendment. They pledged to mount a massive national campaign to enact it.
“For the women of Virginia and the women of America, the resolution has finally passed,” Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax), the first female House speaker in the 401-year history of Virginia’s legislature, said in announcing the result of the House vote.
Last week the Trump “Injustice” Department, led by Attorney General William “Coverup” Barr — the man who argues that Congress cannot even investigate a president for crimes committed while in the White House, let alone prosecute a president for his crimes, which should lead you to question his legal judgment — issued a finding that the amendment had expired and could no longer be ratified.
Many legal experts disagree. Robert Black, Senior Fellow for Constitutional Content at the National Constitution Center explains the legal arguments in Could the Equal Rights Amendment become a reality?
The DOJ finding was requested by three [Republican] state attorneys general [Alabama, Louisiana and South Dakota] who sued the archivist of the United States late last year in an attempt to keep him from registering the amendment if Virginia passed it. Their lawsuit is being challenged by two Massachusetts organizations, who say only Congress — not the executive branch — can interfere in a constitutional amendment process.
The National Archives, which certifies the ratification of constitutional amendments, said it will abide by that opinion “unless otherwise directed by a final court order.” To the courts!
In the meantime, congressional Democrats are working to pass a measure removing the deadline. The “Grim Reaper” of the Senate graveyard, “Moscow Mitch” McConnell, will never allow it to come to a vote in the Senate, which is why we need to elect Democrats to the Senate.
Elizabeth Holtzman, a former member of Congress from New York who sponsored the resolution extending the original ratification deadline to 1982, said Wednesday that Virginia’s vote is “a very big step forward.
“It’s a recognition by three-quarters of the states that American women firmly belong in the United States Constitution,” she said in a phone call from Paris. “It’s been a long time coming, far too long.”
This weekend is the annual Women’s March. The ratification of the ERA is finally something to celebrate.
Now there is no good excuse for the Arizona legislature not to pass the ERA and join the 21st Century.