RESOLUTION SUPPORTING SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 1 REMOVING THE DEADLINE FOR THE RATIFICATION BY THE STATES OF THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association has a long record of supporting equal rights for all persons, including women’s rights; and
WHEREAS, Article 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution was amended effective May 18, 1971 to add Section 28 which provides that: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania because of the sex of the individual,” demonstrating support for equal rights under the law; and
WHEREAS, the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America is essential because the Constitution has never been interpreted to protect equality based on sex as strongly as other suspect classifications1; and
WHEREAS, a federal Equal Rights Amendment would provide a fundamental legal remedy against sex discrimination by guaranteeing that constitutional rights may not be denied or abridged on the basis of sex2; and
WHEREAS, such a federal Equal Rights Amendment would treat sex as a suspect classification, similar to race, religion, and national origin currently are treated, and governmental actions that treat men and women differently as a class would be subject to strict judicial scrutiny and would have to meet the highest level of justification – a necessary relation to a compelling state interest – to be upheld as constitutional3; and
WHEREAS, first written in 1923 by Alice Paul, who was a lawyer educated in Philadelphia, the proposed federal Equal Rights Amendment was sent to the states in 1972 for ratification after a two-thirds majority vote in the House and Senate; and
WHEREAS, the federal Equal Rights Amendment, known as the Alice Paul Amendment, provides:
Section 1: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Section 2: The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3: This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.
WHEREAS, a proposed provision of the federal Equal Rights Amendment, which provided that the amendment must be ratified by the states within seven years, is not required by Article V of the Constitution; and
WHEREAS, in 1992, the 27th Amendment to the Constitution, known as the Madison Amendment, was ratified, although it had been proposed in 1789 without any time limit; and
WHEREAS, attempts by states to rescind ratifications of the 14th and 15th Amendments have not been accepted as valid; and
WHEREAS, in 1978, due to only 35 states of the required 38 having ratified the amendment, Congress, by a simple majority vote in a bill signed by President Jimmy Carter, extended the deadline to 1982; and
WHEREAS, by early 2020, three more states, Nevada, Illinois and Virginia, had ratified the federal Equal Rights Amendment, resulting in ratification by the required three-fourths of the states and thus 38 states; and
WHEREAS, on March 17, 2021, the United States House passed House Joint Resolution 17 to remove the time limit for ratification, which joint resolution provides:
That notwithstanding any time limit contained in House Joint Resolution 208, 92nd Congress, as agreed to in the Senate on March 22, 1972, the article of amendment proposed to the States in that joint resolution shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution whenever ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States.
WHEREAS, House Joint Resolution 17 is now pending consideration in the Senate where it is known as Senate Joint Resolution 1.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Bar Association strongly supports Senate Joint Resolution 1, insofar as it would remove the deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, and
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Bar Association authorizes the Chancellor and/or the Chancellor’s designee(s) to communicate the contents of this resolution to the Representatives and Senators elected to represent Pennsylvania in the United States Congress, and other government officials, bar associations, the legal profession, the media, and the public and take any and all additional action that is necessary to effectuate this resolution.
PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
Adopted: April 29, 2021