Support to H.J Res 79 & S.J Res 6, removing the deadline for the ERA
Congress Members Representing Georgia
Congress Members Representing Georgia
From: [Your Name]
Equal Rights Amendment Coalition of Georgia
January 26, 2020
The Honorable [name of Representative] Via Hand Delivery
Dear [title of Representative]:
Re: Support to H.J. Res 79, removing the deadline for the ERA
The ERA Coalition of Georgia has members throughout Georgia and especially important are those men and women from the (xth) Congressional District. We are asking you to Co-sponsor and vote for H.J. Res 79, Congresswoman Jackie Speier's legislation to remove the deadline from the ERA legislation. This vote is coming in the near future.
As you likely know the State of Virginia has just ratified the ERA as the 38th state. The deadline in the original legislation was part of the preamble and was not voted on by members of Congress, so we are taking the position that achieving the 38th state is valid. H.J. Res 79 is an extra step to assure that the ERA is duly ratified.
Our country is the only industrialized government that does not specifically mention the equally of women in our Constitution. Since the last World War, when our country provides assistance to another country as they are writing their constitution, women are specifically stated to be equal. Right now, the only specific right provided in the U.S. Constitution is the 19th Amendment which gives women the right to vote.
In today's world most people automatically believe that the Equal Rights Amendment is already part of the Constitution and they are shocked when they find out that is isn't. Some people want to rely on the 14th Amendment to provide all the protection that women need, but that falls severely short, too. By adding the ERA to our Constitution, sex discrimination will be placed on a level playing field in the courts when they use "strict scrutiny" to judge the case. This can help by:
- Saving the crushing expenses of a court case
- Giving judges a better understanding of how to try a sex discrimination case-
be it male of female - Making women physically safer when adjudicating
Attached are documents that can provide more information about the ERA and we will gladly make ourselves available to discuss this issue with you. Please contact:
Debbie Karvey at 678-520-2231 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Debbie Karvey American Association of University Women
The practical effect of this amendment would be seen most clearly in court deliberations on cases of sex discrimination. For the first time, "sex" would be a suspect classification requiring the same high level of "strict scrutiny" and having to meet the same high level of justification - a "necessary" relation to a "compelling" state interest — that the classification of race currently requires.
ow tells courts to exercise "skeptical scrutiny" requiring "exceedingly persuasive" justification of differential treatment the basis of sex, but prohibition of sex discrimination is still not as strongly enforceable as prohibition of race discrimination. Ironically, under current court decisions about sex and race discrimination, a white male claiming race discrimination by a program or action is protected by strict scrutiny, but a black female claiming sex discrimination by the same program or action is protected by only skeptical, not strict, scrutiny.
We need the Equal Rights Amendment to clarify the law for the lower courts, whose decisions still reflect confusion and inconsistency about how to courts deal with sex discrimination claims. If the ERA were in the U.S. Constitution, it would-in many cases-influence the tone of legal reasoning and decisions regarding women's equal rights, producing a cumulative positive effect over time as discrimination cases are brought forth. The Equal Rights Amendment is needed in order to prevent a rollback of women's rights by conservative or reactionary political votes. The ERA will promote laws and court decisions that fairly take into account women's, as well as men's, experiences.
Some ask: Aren't there already enough legal prohibitions of sex discrimination?" Aren't women protected from discrimination by laws such as:
- Equal Pay Act(1963)
- Title VII and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act (1964)
- Pregnancy Discrimination Act (1978)
- Supreme Court decisions based on the 14th Amendment's equal protection
While these laws do protect women from gender-based discrimination, court rulings over the years since their passage have created legal precedent regarding how the laws can be interpreted and enforced, often to the detriment of what the laws were originally intended to protect women from. Without the ERA, gender based discrimination is becoming harder and harder to prove in a court of law. Until the U.S. Constitution is amended to explicitly state that equality of rights cannot be denied or abridged on account of sex, the political and judicial victories women have achieved with over two centuries are vulnerable to erosion or reversal at any time—now orin the future.
Congress has the power to make laws that replace existing laws—and to do so by a simple majority. Therefore, many of the current legal protections against sex discrimination can be removed by the margin of a single vote. While courts in the near term would still apply skeptical scrutiny to laws that differentiate on the basis of sex, that precedent could be undermined or eventually ignored by future conservative or reactionary courts.
While it is true that lawyers have been able to demand pretty expansive protections for women in the courts, they'd be on much more solid footing with a clear constitutional mandate, rather than decades of muddled case law. Passing the amendment would also have tremendous symbolic value. Most European constitutions have been updated in the twentieth century to include equal protections for women, but the U.S. has not. Adding the ERA would send a huge cultural signal domestically and abroad.