Back at the end of May, Illinois became the thirty-seventh state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. (Thirty-eight states are required for ratification.) Even though I didn’t post about it at the time, events of the past few weeks have confirmed my conviction that embedding the ERA in the Constitution is one of our best weapons against the creeping authoritarianism of the revanchist GOP and its dishonest brokers in all three branches of government. And I’m not alone!
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2014 remarks at the National Press Club said if she could choose any amendment to add to the US Constitution, it would be the Equal Rights Amendment. “I think we have achieved that through legislation, but legislation can be repealed, it can be altered,” Ginsburg continued. “So I would like my granddaughters, when they pick up the Constitution, to see that notion — that women and men are persons of equal stature — I’d like them to see that is a basic principle of our society.”
It will probably not come as a surprise that the states which have so far failed to ratify are those of the Confederacy, plus Utah and Arizona. That doesn’t mean any of these states are unflippable, not even Arkansas (hello, Senator Doug Jones) or Georgia. The original 1970s impetus to revive the ERA — which, it should be remembered, was first proposed in 1923 — was vitiated by a series of state-level legal and social changes. But Anthony Kennedy’s retirement, and the Reichtwing jubilation greeting the Oval Office Occupant’s chance to steal another seat on the Supreme Court, make it clear that the ERA is every bit as essential to our continued existence as a free nation as the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments. Without protection at the highest level, our rights to equal protection will never be more than provisional.