On June 4th, one hundred years ago, congress passed the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote after it was ratified by the states one year later. While the amendment was a huge step for women’s rights, it did not protect them against discrimination. It did not guarantee equality with men. That brings us to the Equal Rights Amendment that was passed by congress in 1972 and sent to the states for ratification. The Amendment would end the legal distinctions between men and women in terms of divorce, property, employment, and other matters. congress set a dead line for ratification of seven years and by 1977 it had been approved by 35 of the needed 38 states. It seemed destined to pass then along came Phyllis Schlafly who organized conservative women in opposition. Five states rescinded their approval, even though it remains a legal question as to whether a state can revoke its ratification of a federal constitutional amendment. Congress attempted several times to remove the deadline.
The on March 22, 2017, on the 45th anniversary or congressional approval, the Nevada legislature ratified the amendment. A year later. Illinois did the same. It is now one state legislature’s vote away from becoming part of the US Constitution.
Last night the host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver, issued a challenge to one of the thirteen states to be the state that makes the er part of US Constitutional law, that is, except for Florida because he doesn’t want to give them credit for it.