The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), first introduced in 1923, is a proposed constitutional amendment that prohibits denying or limiting equality of rights under the law based on sex. Unlike many other nations' constitutions, the US Constitution does not specifically guarantee equal rights for all citizens regardless of sex. The ERA would finally enshrine protections against sex discrimination in our Constitution, an important safeguard against recent congressional attempts to reverse legislative prohibitions on sex discrimination. The ERA would also require courts to apply strict scrutiny when assessing policies that allow for differential treatment based on sex.
When Congress approved the ERA in 1972, only 35 of the required 38 states ratified it by the 1982 deadline, and the ERA failed to pass. Now, Democrats in both chambers of Congress have introduced resolutions that would restart the ratification process to declare that women have equal rights in the United States. With momentum on our side, now is the time to establish landmark constitutional protections against sex discrimination.