Three attorneys general including Nevada’s Aaron Ford have sued to force the Trump administration to recognize the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — the Equal Rights Amendment.
They said with Virginia’s action this year, three quarters of the states — 38 in all — have now ratified the ERA and it is now part of the Constitution. Nevada ratified the ERA in 2017 when Ford was Senate majority leader.
But Trump has barred National Archivist David Ferriero from publishing the amendment, which would officially add it to the Constitution.
Ford, joined by Virginia AG Mark Herring and Illinois AG Kwame Raoul, said that certification is just a ministerial duty and that, as far as they’re concerned, the 28th Amendment is already part of the Constitution. They are suing to force the federal government to recognize that.
In the federal suit Virginia v. Ferriero they are asking for summary judgment against the federal government. Herring pointed out that Article 5 of the Constitution says simply that an amendment shall be valid when ratified by three-fourths of the states.
“And three-fourths of the states have ratified it,” he said.
Opponents argue that the original amendment approved by Congress in 1972 set a time limit of seven years to get those ratifications but Herring said that deadline isn’t valid.
“It’s just in the Joint Resolution of Congress and a joint resolution can’t change the Constitution,” he said pointing out that Article 5 says nothing about a deadline.
In fact, they said, the 27th Amendment was originally approved by Congress in 1789 but wasn’t made part of the Constitution until 1992, more than 200 years later. The deadline argument, they said, “falls flat.”
Raoul said the ERA isn’t just a measure to protect women. It bars sex discrimination of any kind — against men, women and members of the LGBTQ community included.
Ford said one example is the different policies companies have that provide women with family leave but not men.
Herring said it’s being held up simply, “because the Trump administration is so opposed to the equality of women.”
Asked whether the amendment would impact abortion rights, Raoul said the U.S. Supreme Court has already weighed in on that in Roe v. Wade, recognizing a woman’s right to seek an abortion.
It would, the three said, impact the wage gap. A black woman makes an average of 62 cents for every dollar a white man makes and Latinas just 57 cents on the dollar.