The Equal Rights Amendment

The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board noted in their Valentine’s Day editorial that the time limit for ratifying the ERA has long passed its expiration date and that Virginia’s lately “ratification” of the Amendment, which might have put the thing over the top for national ratification, came much too late to have effect.

On the whole, I agree with the Editors.

However, on this, I strongly disagree:

The ERA also isn’t necessary today. America in 2020 is a very different place for women than it was when the ERA was written. Laws bar discrimination against women in all walks of life, and women are CEOs, Senators, and the Speaker of the House.

Laws are nearly as easily undone or allowed to go fallow as they are enacted. Our Constitution is much harder to ignore or change–as it must be. Principles that are enacted as statute aren’t, at bottom, principles; they’re merely today’s view of things. On the other hand, principles need to be written into the Constitution if they’re to have lasting effect.

Back to the ERA: it was unnecessary when it was proposed in 1972; that it’s unnecessary today is irrelevant. Article I of the 14th Amendment does the job just fine, especially in the hands of textualist judges and Justices.

Happy Valentine’s Day, a few days after the fact.

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