WASHINGTON—The House will attempt to revive the Equal Rights Amendment later this week, with a vote to remove the 1982 deadline for state ratification and reopen the process for amending the Constitution to prohibit discrimination based on sex. But removing the deadline won’t clear a path for the 28th Amendment. Hurdles, including the Republican-led Senate, a lawsuit from GOP state attorneys general and opposition from the current Justice Department, remain.
Congressional support of the ERA in the early 1970s was widespread and bipartisan. It passed the House in a 354-24 vote and the Senate by a 84-8 vote, bipartisan tallies for such an issue that are difficult to imagine in the modern political climate.
The amendment then needed approval of three-fourths of the state legislatures before 1979, a deadline set by Congress. More than half of the states ratified the amendment within the first year, and 35 states ratified it before 1977. Congress then extended the deadline for another three years to 1982, but no additional states voted to ratify, leaving the amendment three state legislatures short of the three-fourths requirement.
Last month, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the ERA — ostensibly reaching the required three-fourths threshold for the 28th Amendment to the Constitution. But the 1982 deadline has long since passed.