Constitutional Crisis Hotline

Stayin' Alive: The 1970s Equal Rights Amendment Returns to Congress

Episode Summary

In this episode, Kathleen Sullivan and Jesse Wegman join Jed and Julie to discuss whether Congress can declare the Equal Rights Amendment ratified and part of the Constitution fifty years after it proposed the amendment to the states.

Episode Notes

Is the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) dead or alive? The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing at the end of February to consider a resolution that would recognize some state ratifications of the ERA that were completed decades after Congress’s deadline. Originally proposed in 1923 and adopted by Congress in 1972, the ERA would add a sex equality guarantee to the U.S. Constitution. Does Congress have constitutional power to remove the ratification deadline? What should it do about the states that tried to rescind their ratifications? And what difference does the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs make to the future of women’s constitutional rights?

Kathleen Sullivan testified at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the ERA on February 28, 2023, in addition to the House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on the same subject in 2019.  Sullivan is the former dean and professor of law at Stanford Law School, and currently senior counsel at Quinn Emanuel. She is the co-author of a leading constitutional law textbook and dozens of law review articles including, most relevant to this episode, “Constitutional Constancy: Why Congress Should Cure Itself of Amendment Fever” (1996) and “Constitutionalizing Women’s Equality” (2022).

Jesse Wegman authored an op-ed in the New York Times,, “Why Can’t We Make Women’s Equality the Law of the Land?” (2022). Wegman is a member of the New York Times editorial board, and teaches courses at NYU School of Law. He has written on a range of legal and political issues for the New York Times.  He is the author of a 2020 book, Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College.

Read Constitutional Crisis Hotline co-host Julie C. Suk’s 2020 book about the ERA, We the Women: The Unstoppable Mothers of the Equal Rights Amendment .

Read Kathleen Sullivan’s written testimony for the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on the ERA

Read Jesse Wegman’s Why Can’t We Make Women’s Equality the Law of the Land? N.Y. Times, 1/28/2022.

Watch the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on the ERA, Feb. 28, 2023.

S.J. Res. 4- A joint resolution removing the deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.