Feb. 28, 2023
Carson City, NV – Today, Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford and Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul issued the following statement in response to an opinion issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in their lawsuit asking the federal government to acknowledge the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) as the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The opinion affirmed the dismissal of the lawsuit filed by the attorneys general that sought to ensure the ERA’s recognition.
The statement from the attorneys general follows:
“We filed this lawsuit because we believe all of the requirements have been met for equal rights for all Americans to be enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, and we do not believe that Congress’ arbitrary deadline for ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment is lawful.
Although the court of appeals did not direct the federal government to certify and publish the ERA, it is important to recognize what today’s opinion does not say. It does not say that the federal government cannot acknowledge the Amendment’s successful ratification, and it does not say that Congress cannot clarify that there is no deadline for ratification. Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Equal Rights Amendment. We encourage Congress to continue to act.
In fact, the court’s opinion makes it all the more important for the federal government and Congress to act – today – to ensure that the Amendment is acknowledged as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution.
Despite today’s ruling, we will continue to fight for a published Constitution that explicitly prohibits all forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on sex.”
Originally introduced in 1923, the ERA was adopted in Congress in 1972 with broad, bipartisan support. Under the leadership of then-State Sen. Patricia Spearman, Nevada ratified the ERA on March 21, 2017, when Attorney General Ford served as Senate Majority Leader. Illinois ratified the ERA shortly after in 2018.
With Virginia’s ratification in January 2020, a total of 38 states ratified the ERA, passing the constitutional threshold required for the ERA to become the 28th Amendment.
Following the refusal of the federal archivist to ratify the ERA, Attorneys General Ford and Raoul, along with former Attorney General Mark Herring of Virginia, filed a lawsuit in 2020 to ensure that the ERA is ratified as the 28th Amendment.
Amicus briefs filed by approximately 86 business groups; 85 advocacy groups; 19 states and the District of Columbia; former state legislators; and constitutional law scholars supported Attorneys General Ford and Raoul in this lawsuit.
The ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment would place in the Constitution an explicit guarantee of protection against discrimination based on sex. Once these protections are enshrined in the Constitution, they cannot be changed as easily as other laws.