The US Senate fell short of the required votes needed to include equal rights for women in the Constitution, a century after the guarantee of gender equality was proposed in Congress.
Despite a vote of 51-47 in favor, the resolution needed the support of nine Republicans in the US Senate, which was not met. The resolution would have eliminated a 1982 deadline for state ratification, which hindered the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) from coming into effect. Nevada, Illinois, and Virginia approved it after the 1982 deadline.
Chuck Schumer, the top US Senate Democrat, claimed that the ERA was more important after the Supreme Court overturned the national right to abortion last year. “To the horror of hundreds of millions of American people, women in America have far fewer rights today than they did even a year ago,” Schumer stated before Thursday’s vote.
Opponents of abortion argued that the ERA could pave the way for making abortion a constitutional right, and the amendment’s failure is likely to increase attention on women’s rights in the 2024 White House campaign.
Proponents of the amendment say it would ensure women get equal pay and secure their rights in legal matters, while opponents argue it could subject women to a military draft if it were reinstated.
The ERA was proposed in 1923, but did not pass Congress until 1972. Amendments to the Constitution must be ratified by three-fourths, or 38 of the 50, state legislatures, and do not require presidential approval under US law.
In 2021, a US District Court declared that ratifications after the deadline “came too late to count.” In February, a federal appeals court rejected calls from Illinois and Nevada to adopt the ERA.
The Trump administration argued that ERA ratification needed to start over. Although the Biden administration has not formally altered that position, it expressed support for the resolution on Thursday. The White House stated, “It is long past time to definitively enshrine the principle of gender equality in the Constitution.”