Leftists resurrecting ‘Equal Rights Amendment’ to make US Constitution pro-abortion

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November 7, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) proponents have been misleading the public about the purpose and consequences of the ERA for close to 50 years!

Their current three-state ERA ratification ruse is a revolutionary act on the part of progressives to place the legal authority for the killing of unborn children into our Constitution, and not to simply rely on the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton Supreme Court decisions. In fact, at a shadow hearing on the ERA on June 6, 2018, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), chair of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, said:

We cannot trust the Supreme Court not to go back. What the Supreme Court giveth, the Supreme can taketh away[.] ... [W]e are worried now that another Supreme Court nominee might overturn Roe v. Wade.

Further, state and federal courts have concluded that state ERAs or similar “equal treatment” provisions of state constitutions require tax-paid abortions in Connecticut, Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Colorado [Doe v. Maher, Conn., 1986; State v. Planned Parenthood of Alaska, 2001; Simat Corp. v. Ariz. Health Care Cost Containment Sys., 2002; Humphreys v. Clinic for Women, (Indiana 2003); Right to Choose v. Byrne, (N.J. 1982). New Mexico Right to Choose — NARAL v. Johnson, (1998); Colorado Civil Rights Commission v. Travelers Insurance Co. (1988)].

The ERA failed in 1982 because 35, not 38 states, as required by Article V of our U.S. Constitution, ratified the ERA by its ratification deadline. Undeterred by a simple thing like our Constitution, in 2019, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) introduced H.J. Res. 38, pretending the congressionally established 1982 ERA ratification deadline could simply be scrapped almost four decades later! This maneuver would fraudulently count the 35 almost 40-year-old state ratifications of the ERA secured before 1979 toward adoption of the ERA now and permit only three additional states to ultimately “ratify” the ERA. If you can believe this, ERA advocates also claim that Nevada ratified the long expired ERA in 2017 and Illinois in 2018.

This pie-in-the-sky maneuver has nothing to do with reality and everything to do with political machinations, but in the Left’s handbook, the ends justify the means. Thus, ERA proponents now claim that with House and Senate passage of H.J. Res. 38, only three more state “ratifications” will add the ERA to our Constitution!

The ERA has been sold to Americans as promoting simple “equality” and “putting women into the Constitution,” and mandating “equal pay for equal work” but this explanation is far from the truth!

The ERA’s basic language reads, “Equality of rights under law shall not be denied or abridged ... on account of sex.” The ERA was sent to the states on March 22, 1972 and would become, in the words of the ERA resolution, “part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years of its submission by the Congress.”

When ERA advocates realized they would not gain enough states to ratify by the deadline, they convinced Congress in 1978 to extend the ratification deadline three additional years and three months. Despite the extension, the ERA failed to gain the required state ratifications.

A review of the ERA hearings in Congress, floor debate, court cases, law review articles, and written goals of pro-ERA organizations proves that at least the following legal consequences would follow if the ERA were to be adopted licitly or illicitly:

The ERA would:

  • prohibit any restrictions on abortion or its tax funding;
  • compel women/girls to compete against men/boys in sports;
  • abolish female privacy in prisons, locker rooms, women’s shelters, nursing homes, hospitals;
  • subject women to selective service registration and front-line ground combat;
  • end all incentives for women-owned businesses;
  • end female scholarships;
  • end women-only sports programs;
  • abolish alimony guidelines;
  • end lower auto and other insurance rates for women;
  • treat any legal distinction based on sex the same as racial discrimination.

Another serious issue that was not specifically addressed during consideration of the ERA in the 1970s was “transgenderism.” Surely, adoption of the ERA would cement same-sex “marriage” and “transgender rights” into our Constitution to provide a much firmer foundation than court opinions.

The ERA Means Identical, Not Equal, Treatment of Men and Women

ERA proponents insist they want men and women to be treated identically. However, sexual differences flowing from the Creator’s handiwork cannot be changed by human laws.

At a September 15, 1970 Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing, Yale Law professor Thomas Emerson, the legal “brain trust” for ERA proponents, affirmed this ERA thesis:

The proposed amendment states clearly and simply the fundamental objective: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. ... The term ‘equality,’ as used in the amendment ... means that women must be treated by the law in the same way as other persons, that is, their rights must be determined on the basis of the same factors that apply to men. The factor of femaleness or maleness is irrelevant. ... [F]or much the same reasons as in the racial area, the clause would not sanction ‘separate but equal’ treatment. Power to deny equality of rights on account of sex is wholly foreclosed.

In March 1971, ERA-supporter Congresswoman Bella Abzug (D-N.Y.) testified before a House of Representatives Judiciary subcommittee that “the amendment itself ... would wipe the slate clean ... eliminate all present legal distinctions based on sex, and would reject the presumption that sex is ever a reasonable legal classification.”

A month later, in April 1971, William Rehnquist, later chief justice of the Supreme Court, also testified before the House Judiciary subcommittee on behalf of President Nixon’s Justice Department. He said the ERA’s “broad general language ... would ... add substantial uncertainties in this area of constitutional law which would probably require extensive and protracted litigation to dispel[.] ... We would have some doubt as to whether there is a national consensus for compelling all levels of government to treat men and women across the board as if they were identical human beings.”

The next day, Harvard Law professor Paul Freund told the same House Judiciary subcommittee that for more than forty years, ERA absolutists had pursued the strict scrutiny ERA but that many women’s rights organizations had opposed the ERA as strictly interpreted. Freund pointed out: “This course has been opposed by individuals and groups whose commitment to civil rights and women’s rights is not in question: groups that include the National Council of Negro Women, the National Council of Catholic Women, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Association of University Women, and the Commission on the Status of Women, appointed by President Kennedy and chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt.”

University of Chicago Law professor Philip Kurland noted that the controversy surrounding the ERA “derives from the fact that the movement for ‘women’s rights’ is Janus-faced. The proposed amendment presented one aspect, while much of it was voiced in terms of its other visage. The first would command the treatment of men and women as if there were no differences between them[.] ... It was a demand for legal ‘unisex’ by constitutional mandate[.] ...

The second attitude towards ‘women’s rights’ would only seek the elimination of discrimination against women, a ban on treating females as a disabled class[.] ... The debate ... is seriously hampered by its supporters’ indecisiveness about its effects and duplicity about its meaning” (Harvard Civil Rights — Civil Liberties Law Review, Vol. 6, 1971).

The “indecisiveness” mentioned by Kurlund was over not what the pro-ERA feminists wanted, but how candid they would be with the general public about the legal effects of the ERA as they did not want to generate organized opposition in states that were yet to consider ERA ratification. Thus, as Professor Kurlund noted, ERA proponents resorted to duplicity, a tactic that continues to this day.