The Senate will vote this week on a measure that would seek to remove a barrier to enshrining the Equal Rights Amendment in the U.S. Constitution, more than a half-century after Congress overwhelmingly passed the proposed amendment, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY., said Monday.
The Equal Rights Amendment, which Congress passed in 1972, would prohibit discrimination based on sex, explicitly saying in the country's founding document that women are equal to men. In a statement Monday, Schumer argued that the amendment has become increasingly relevant, as American women are facing an "uncertain future" after the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and recent battles over medication abortion.
“In this ominous hour of American history, the Equal Rights Amendment has never been as necessary and urgent as it is today," Schumer said.
"It has been exactly 100 years since the first ERA was proposed in Congress," he added. "American women cannot afford to wait 100 more.”
The Equal Rights Amendment was written by the suffragist Alice Paul and introduced in Congress in 1923. Congress passed the amendment in 1972, starting the clock on a seven-year deadline for states to ratify the proposed amendment. Congress later extended the deadline to 1982, but the deadline came and went without enough states ratifying the amendment.
In 2020, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the amendment, meeting the three-fourths majority necessary for a constitutional amendment. But a federal judge later ruled that the move came too late to make the amendment part of the Constitution. The Department of Justice under President Donald Trump also said that the time period had lapsed and that Congress would need to again pass the amendment and send it to states for consideration.
This week's Senate vote would consider a bipartisan resolution written by Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, to remove the 1982 deadline.
In 2021, the House narrowly passed a resolution to remove the 1982 deadline, with only four Republicans voting for the measure. At the time, Cardin's and Murkowski's companion resolution was stalled after introduction in the evenly divided Senate.
As the earlier legal battle over the amendment played out, abortion rights advocates argued that the amendment would reinforce the right to abortion and require judges to counter anti-abortion laws. But votes on measures related to abortion have received staunch Republican opposition, which is likely to be the case in the resolution vote this week.