Will the ERA be the Phoenix that Rises from the Ashes?
Sparks flew in the Senate on Tuesday as Democrat Senators tried to make a case for raising the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) from the dead. The Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) held a hearing entitled, The Equal Rights Amendment: How Congress Can Recognize Ratification and Enshrine Equality in Our Constitution. Although panelists were stacked in favor of the ERA, they failed, yet again, to make the case for removing the deadline on the ERA as well as defending it on its merits.
The hearing began with Ranking Committee Member Lindsey Graham (R-SC) delivering breaking news to solidify his stance against the ERA. The D.C. Court of Appeals upheld the original deadline of the ERA. This lawsuit was brought against the U.S. Archivist by the Attorneys General of Nevada, Illinois, and Virginia to demand that the amendment be published as ratified even though those three states passed it after the 1982 deadline had expired. Virginia eventually withdrew from the lawsuit after the new Republican Attorney General Jason Miyares concluded that the deadline has expired and Virginia would no longer participate in the charade. (Yes, state AG races are very important!) With one less state championing the ERA and the remaining two losing in court, proponents struggled with presenting their case for ratification.
Eagle Forum’s President Kris Ullman and Executive Director Tabitha Walter attended the hearing along with many pro-family and pro-life allies. ERA proponents were mostly grouped on one side of the room and made themselves known. On three separate occasions, activists were removed by Capitol Police for angrily shouting down the anti-ERA speakers and could even be heard shouting in the hallways. Even Chair Durbin criticized the disruptions noting that they were not helpful to the cause. However, he and his Democrat colleagues did even more damage with their own words.
The first panel of witnesses contained three Senators: Sens. Ben Cardin who sponsored the resolution to remove the deadline (S.J. Res. 4), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) who is a co-sponsor, and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) who is Chair of the Senate Pro-life Caucus and opponent of the ERA. While Cardin and Murkowski echoed talking points that claim women are currently oppressed, Hyde-Smith debunked their fearmongering and stood on truth. As the first woman to represent Mississippi in the Senate, she stated that the ERA “would harm the women it seeks to protect.” Later in her testimony, she criticized the Senators pushing this effort forward saying:
Beyond the problematic content in the amendment, all Senators should be offended at the blatant disrespect of the legislative process with the effort to resurrect this long-expired amendment.
The next panel was made up of witnesses from various backgrounds to speak in favor or opposition to the ERA. Democrats chose Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton, Attorney Kathleen Sullivan, and college student and ERA Coalition Board Member Thursday Williams. Republicans chose Independent Women’s Forum’s Jennifer Braceras and Law Professor Elizabeth Price Foley, of Florida International University. Sullivan claimed that women are not protected under the Constitution and that removing the deadline would be legal because its location is in the preamble. However, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) refuted that contention, noting the deadline was used as a tool to gain votes from skeptical legislators. The date, regardless of where it was placed, was voted on by two-thirds of Congress and therefore binding. He is not alone in his assertion. Multiple court cases such as NOW v. Idaho and the lawsuit mentioned above have confirmed the expiration of the ERA.
While Braceras and Foley both tackled the illegitimacy of removing the deadline, Braceras also outlined the repercussions that adoption of the ERA would have on women. She highlighted the impact of men accessing women’s private spaces, sports, and shelters. Even her own daughter has been forced to play against men in high school field hockey due to the Massachusetts State ERA. Surprisingly, this assertion struck a nerve with proponents.
The ones who claimed to champion women suddenly flipped their view. Unprovoked, Williams stated:
There are a lot of concerns about men performing in women’s sports and I am here as a young woman of color who is in her senior year of college. We’re not worried about that. I’m not worried about that. It’s the truth. We’re not.
Durbin doubled down on this notion and mockingly said:
…many people including a woman named Phyllis Schlafly, who is also from the state of Illinois, told us that what we thought were the issues were not really the issues. The real issue was the fate of public restrooms and whether or not you would have privacy in those restrooms based on gender. Now we hear what’s at stake really is not a constitutional right for women, but the fate of field hockey.
Once collegiate swimmer Riley Gaines heard Williams’ statement, she recorded a response:
You say women aren’t worried about losing out on opportunities in our sports to men, but how about you ask us, the ones who are in this position about our careers before making claims for us. What you’re actively advocating for is discrimination on the basis of sex.
The entire hearing was a farce. ERA proponents continue to ignore the facts. Over the last century, Congress has passed laws protecting women’s access to educational opportunities, workplace safety, and participation in sports. Laws are already in place to ensure fair pay, pregnancy protections, and repercussions against sexual harassment and discrimination. Keep in mind, the ERA never mentions the word “women,” only “sex.” If the ERA is added to the Constitution, all women-specific benefits would have to be erased to create a sex-neutral society. Plus, the push to redefine “sex” to include “gender identity” (as was done in the Bostock case) would mean the ERA is not about females at all!
Eagle Forum’s President Kris Ullman spoke at a joint press conference saying:
We are not and have never been victims, and the liberal feminists do not speak for all women. We at Eagle Forum know that the claim that American women are downtrodden and unfairly treated is the fraud of this century as well.
Senator Schumer has promised the radical feminists that he will bring this resolution to remove the deadline of the ERA (S.J. Res. 4) to the Senate floor by April. Take Action now by contacting your Senators and letting them know you oppose resurrection of the ERA. American women rejected the ERA in the last century and we must do it again in the 21st Century as well!