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EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT (ERA)

On March 6, 2020 the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) approved a resolution affirming NAWL’s steadfast support for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the United States Constitution.

The ERA states simply that “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” Aiding in the passage of the ERA directly serves NAWL’s mission of providing leadership, a collective voice, and essential resources to advance women in the legal profession and advocating for the equality of women under the law.

This resolution is not the first time that NAWL has identified the ERA as an advocacy priority. NAWL was one of the first national organizations to endorse the ERA and was present for its first reading and presentation at the National Women’s Conference in 1923. When Congress finally passed the amendment in 1972, NAWL adopted the full ratification of the ERA as a major project for the following decade. At that time Marguerite Rawalt, who spearheaded NAWL’s advocacy efforts, wrote in the Women Lawyers Journal that, “Equal justice does not exist for women under the Constitution as interpreted to date. They are the one remaining ‘class’ and category not yet adjudged to come under the legal umbrella of the Constitution.”

Congress set an initial deadline for the ERA’s ratification as 1982; this deadline passed with only 35 states having voted to ratify. In recent years, ratification has gained new momentum, and the 38-state threshold was met with approvals from Nevada (2017), Illinois (2018), and Virginia (2020).

NAWL’s new resolution solidifies the Association’s commitment to advocate for the equality of women under the law. Through a partnership with the ERA Coalition, NAWL is actively advocating for the Archivist of the United States to publish the ERA, and for Congress to remove the deadline, so that the ERA officially becomes the 28th amendment to the United States Constitution, finally guaranteeing women equal rights and equal protection after nearly a century of activism.

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Advocacy Updates from the ERA Coalition:

March 17, 2020:

Federal: The ERA Coalition continues to work on SJ Res 6, the bi-partisan bill to remove the time limit on the ERA. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) who sponsors the bill with Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) took to the floor of the Senate on March 12th to push for its passage. Co-sponsors now at 48, all Democrats, 2 Republicans. The ERA Coalition needs your to continue to reach out to Republican Senators. Please go to the Advocacy Map to contact your Senators and urge them to sign on: www.eracoaltion.org

States: Good news out of South Carolina. The full Judiciary will consider the ERA: "An all-female Senate Judiciary subcommittee unanimously voted to opt South Carolina into the growing roster of states calling for an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution." What's more, it was two Republican state senators (Katrina Shealy and Sandy Senn) and two Democratic senators (Margie Bright Matthews and Mia McLeod who sent out 2 ERA bills to the full Judiciary--another by Senator Tom Davis. Congrats to the ERA Coalition's SC Lead Org Equal Means for their good hard work. You can read all about it HERE.

Legal: Amicus briefs- Please contact the ERA Coalition if you have a suggestion for an Amicus brief to support the Attorneys General of Nevada, Illinois and Virginia in their suit to compel the Archivist to certify the ERA. They are working with them and several legal teams to support their efforts.

ERA Coalition Business Council: On Wednesday, March 11th the ERA Coalition announced the launch of Corporate America for the ERA with charter partner Johnnie Walker and its new product Jane Walker Black. You can read all about it at:  www.eracoalition.org/corporate.

Actress Sophia Bush joined ERA Coalition Co-Founder/Co-President Jessica Neuwirth in celebrating the Call to Action to Business Leaders across the country, to join Corporate American for the ERA. 

NAWL is also pleased to offer several educational resources about the ERA

The Equal Rights Amendment: Legal Issues and Implications Webinar (December 2019)

Presentation slides from the ERA Panel at the 2019 NAWL Mid-Year Meeting

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