This week, House Democrats will reportedly pass a measure to lift the 1982 deadline on a feminist amendment to the U.S. Constitution, although the Supreme Court, legal scholars, and the U.S. Department of Justice have said the attempt is unconstitutional. The so-called Equal Rights Amendment was defeated in the 1980s by a woman-led coalition that argued women’s rights will be damaged by attempting to eliminate all distinctions between men and women in federal law.
That argument received unlikely support in the wake of Virginia’s legislature attempting to ratify the expired amendment when Democrats took power earlier this year. A University of Virginia law professor who specializes in identity politics explained why a lot of the messages about the Equal Rights Amendment are just plain false. The quotes below are from that interview with Kim Forde-Mazrui, director of UVA’s Center for the Study of Race and Law. To read the rest, click here.
1. The Constitution Already Guarantees Equal Rights for All
“First, the ERA would only prohibit sex discrimination by the government and that is already prohibited under the Constitution.”
In other words, women have equal rights already. We don’t need a constitutional amendment to get them. That means a constitutional amendment claiming to do so is actually doing something else.
2. The Amendment Wouldn’t Solve a Lot of Serious Women’s Issues
“Second, the ERA would not apply at all to the inequalities that concern its supporters. Because it would not apply to the private sector, it would have no effect on such issues as violence against women, unequal pay or sexual harassment in the workplace.”
By the way, violence against women, sexual harassment, and unequal pay for equal work are all also already illegal. Again, then what is this all really about?
3. The ERA Would Actually Harm Women
“Even worse, the ERA would harm women because it would not only bar government discrimination against women, like current law does, it would also ban all distinctions on the basis of sex, including policies designed to benefit girls and women. State and federal programs to increase female participation in STEM fields, corporate management and business ownership, for example, would likely violate the ERA. It would also jeopardize single-sex settings, such as schools, dormitories, prisons and locker rooms. This is because the ERA would require the government and courts to treat sex like they are required to treat race. The U.S. Supreme Court increasingly prohibits all race distinctions including when used to promote integration or to reduce inequality.”
In other words, the so-called “Equal Rights” Amendment is really about forcing women to be treated as if we are exactly like men in every respect, and very likely to be interpreted as forcing us to shower with men, sleep with men we didn’t choose to sleep with, and undress next to men we don’t want looking at our naked bodies. The amendment is a bait and switch based on the proposition that women are stupid about our best interests and can be led through the nose to support anything the corporate media label “pro-woman.”
4. ERA Would Disadvantage Other Identity Politics Groups
“[I]t could harm equality for other groups to take the position that only groups that are explicitly protected in the Constitution are protected. The Constitution does not mention any group in its equality clause (not even race), which has allowed the courts to expand the groups protected as their discrimination has become recognized, including different racial and national-origin groups, women, and gays and lesbians. If women are equal to men only if the Constitution expressly says so, then the message to other groups, such as gay, transgender, mentally or physically disabled and poor people is that they are not equal until they can amend the Constitution in their favor, a practical impossibility.”
Do we really want to start embedding identity politics into the highest law in the land? If we start, the chances it will ever end are close to zero. There will always be some other way of dividing people up to parcel out their rights in accordance with their perceived political power. Best to stick with equal rights for all, no exceptions, no additions, no subtractions.
5. Virginia’s Passage Was Basically Illegal and Pointless
“My colleague, UVA law professor Saikrishna Prakash… concludes that Congress cannot change the deadline to validate the three ratifications that have occurred in recent years, including Virginia’s. I have not studied these issues as closely as he has, but it seems to me that, at a minimum, Congress would have to eliminate the 1982 deadline and do so by two-thirds of each chamber. This conclusion is contrary to the hopes of some ERA supporters that Virginia’s ratification made the ERA law without any further action by Congress. In short, the next steps will be in the hands of Congress and the courts.”
It’s doubtful that either house of Congress is going to pass the ERA again with a two-thirds majority in the near future. Democrats hold the House, but not anywhere near that big a majority. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the revival bill is going nowhere in the Senate.
There are a lot of lies and rule-breaking going on to push this amendment on Americans yet again. If it’s really that wonderful, why does it have to be rushed through legislatures in the dark and against the laws setting out the the ground rules for advancing constitutional amendments?