Democrats reintroduce Equal Rights Amendment similar to 1972 bill

Alexa Williams Contributor
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Some Congressional Democrats are so upset with the Supreme Court’s 9-0 decision against Wal-Mart women that they’re reviving yet another push for the Equal Rights Amendment.

1.5 million female Wal-Mart employees lost in a sex discrimination suit brought before the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this week because the court said that they couldn’t prove that all the women involved had endured the same discrimination and therefore couldn’t be lumped together.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney and Sen. Robert Menendez — along with many other Democrats — took this as an attack on women’s rights and reintroduced the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) Wednesday.

The “new” bill contains the same verbage as its 1972 equivalent. The two-page amendment simply states that equality could not be denied on the “account of sex” and that Congress would have the power to enforce this mandate.

Democrats saw the Wal-Mart case as a perfect backdrop to stage this movement, playing off the emotions of many women on the heels of what they see as a “set back” in the cause for equality.

“The Wal-Mart case decided by the Supreme Court this week is a classic example of how far attitudes must still come. The facts of the case support the view that over a million women were systematically denied equal pay by the world’s largest employer,” Maloney said. (Coulter takes on Howard Dean about Wal-Mart SCOTUS decision)

Originally proposed in 1923, the ERA was presented to Congress repeatedly until it passed through both houses in 1972. It only gained ratification in 35 of the 38 states required for it to be added to the Constitution. It was largely opposed because labor unions feared ERA would hurt legislation that protected women in the workforce.

Phyllis Schlafly became an influential figure in the opposition of the ERA and created the “Stop the ERA,” which stood for “Stop Taking our Privileges.” She contended that women privileges — such as “dependent wife” benefits and exclusion from the draft — would be lost.

Though five states ratified ERA after Schlafly began her efforts, another five withdrew their consent.

“While the ERA would apply only to government action, its effect would be sweeping, historic—and long overdue,” Maloney said.

Schlafly had a different view: “I do not believe that the ERA — if ratified — would do anything for the Wal-Mart case, there’s no discriminatory actions in the Wal-Mart case.

“What they are after is attitude and we don’t want our Constitution to tell us what our attitudes should be.  It tells us what laws can and can’t do and we don’t want to amend the Constitution to tell people attitudes they should have,” Schlafly said. (Supreme Court won’t hear appeal from ACORN)

Many Democrats are attempting to resurrect a lost cause and meddle with the Constitution but they are going after this with a change that Americans have demonstrated time and time again that they do not want.

The amendment has been reintroduced each year since it failed to gain the necessary approval in 1982. Maloney has been the sponsor since the 105th Congress. “Making women’s equality a constitutional right — after Congress passes and 38 states ratify the ERA — would place the United States on record, albeit more than 200 years late, that women are fully equal in the eyes of the law,” she said.

Although the bill currently has 159 House Cosponsors, Schlafly isn’t worried about the possibility of it passing. “It isn’t going to pass, they’re beating a dead horse – the American people rejected it, they don’t want it,” the ERA opponent said.

“It was debated for ten years and rejected – they kind of made a laughing stock of themselves,” Schlafly said.