URGENT ACTION RE ERA

It has been nearly a century since the first version of the Equal Rights Amendment, known as Lucretia Mott Amendment, was introduced in Congress, and almost 50 years since it finally was passed by both houses in 1972.  Many of us marched in support of the ERA and our hope was renewed in recent years when groups like Equal Means Equal joined the fight to get it ratified by the remaining three states.  Nevada ratified in 2017, Illinois in 2018, and Virginia in 2020, finally giving us the 38 states needed to ratify a constitutional amendment.
Then Trump’s Attorney General William Barr sent a memo to the National Archivist, David Ferriero, telling him not to publish the ERA to the Constitution, and though Joe Biden and Kamala Harris both claimed they support the Equal Rights Amendment and many women voted for them expecting them to act, the Biden Administration has made no effort to revoke this egregious abuse of authority or direct the Archivist to publish the ERA. Biden should have done this his first day in office and today he has now been in office for 3 months and he still has not done so.
Therefore, we are asking that you help us exert pressure on Biden and Harris for the next 30 days to honor a century of struggle for equal rights for women by publishing the ERA.  Here is what we’re asking you to do:
1) Send a postcard every day for a month to the White House demanding that they REMOVE the Barr memo and direct the archivist to publish the ERA (stamped postcards=$12 for 30. One trip to the Post Office; 29 trips to one’s mailbox) with the message: WOMEN HAVE WAITED NEARLY A CENTURY FOR OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS.  REMOVE THE BARR MEMO AND DIRECT THE ARCHIVIST TO PUBLISH THE ERA NOW!!  The address is:  President Joe Biden/Vice-President Kamala Harris, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20500.2) Call 2-3 female Senators per day (18 Democrats; 2 moderate Republicans), 3 times (10 days to go through the list at 2 per day) and urge them to demand that the White House publish the ERA.  Here is a list of women senators and their phone numbers to call.  They are all Democrats who should definitely support the ERA except for two moderate Republicans (Susan Collins from Maine and Lisa Murkowski from Alaska) whom we believe are in favor of equal rights for women. We have included their states as well–if you are a constituent of theirs, please emphasize that; let them know you are contacting them because as women you hope they care about women’s rights as much as you do and let them know that you are calling on behalf of all the women in your state and the U.S.

3) Join us on social media–especially Twitter @FeministStruggl (follow us and retweet)–as we can directly tweet to @WhiteHouse, @POTUS, @KamalaHarris @VP @JoeBiden to call out the Biden Administration on their neglect of women’s constitutional rights and obstructionism and demand that they remove the Barr memo and direct the Archivist to publish the #ERANow!!

4) Go to May Day for the ERA at Equal Means Equal and sign up for the livestream to hear Wendy Murphy’s legal argument on May 5th.

Thank you very much for doing all you can for women to finally achieve equality under the law.  We are tired of being second-class citizens and demand our full constitutional rights!!

The Killing of the Equal Rights Amendment

The amazing lawyer from Equal Means Equal, Wendy Murphy, sent FIST the article below on the killing of the ERA by an Obama-appointed Judge and the Biden Administration. She also links the fight for the ERA to the overall struggle to defend women’s sex-based rights against our threatened erasure by transgender ideology. We need to unite and organize even harder as feminists to turn around these attacks on our rights.

 

WHY DID AN OBAMA-APPOINTEE JUDGE KILL THE ERA?

By Wendy Murphy

March 15, 2021 

An Obama-appointee federal judge killed the ERA during Women’s History Month. Let that sink in.

It was a monumental decision that had many scholars scratching their heads trying to understand why a liberal judge with the power and opportunity to establish women’s constitutional equality for the first time in history, would instead rule against women. 

On March 5 Judge Rudolph Contreras from the United States District Court for the D.C. District, determined that the Equal Rights Amendment was invalid because it was not ratified in time. He said that a congressionally imposed ratification deadline had expired decades ago, which rendered recent ratifications by several states meaningless. His ruling killed the ERA, though some women’s groups think the ERA can be revived by having Congress pass a law removing the deadline. A hearing in the House of Representatives on a bill to do just that is scheduled for the week of March 15, but scholars uniformly agree that Congress has no authority to retroactively fix or remove a deadline that no longer exists. In 1978 when the first ERA deadline was about to expire, Congress proposed a law to extend it for three more years. During hearings on the bill, all the scholars who testified said Congress had to take action before the deadline expired or they would forever lose authority to affect the deadline. In other words, Congress has no power to change a law that no longer exists.

Even if Congress passes such a law, it will be voided by another federal judge before it leaves Capitol Hill. Judge Contreras stated in his ruling that he was expressing no opinion on how he might rule if Congress were to pass a law removing the deadline, but he was very clear that the validity of such a law would be decided by the courts, not Congress. Judge Contreras’ anti-ERA ruling leaves little doubt the judge who rules on the deadline removal bill will quickly rule that expired deadlines cannot be revived by an act of Congress.

Neither party supports women’s equality, but the Democrats fake it better. If Democrats actually supported the ERA, Judge Contreras would have validated the ERA simply because he could. At a minimum, he could have included in his opinion a discussion of why women need equality, and how not having full equal protection rights causes women to suffer high rates of violence, etc. Having a federal judge acknowledge the purpose of the ERA and the suffering women endure because they are unequal would have been helpful. But he said nothing.

Judge Contreras wasn’t required to discuss much less rule against the ERA. He had determined at the outset of his decision that the Plaintiffs – Nevada, Illinois, and Virginia – had no standing to file a lawsuit. When a judge finds no standing, there is no reason for that judge to then discuss the merits of the case, but he gave us his opinion on the deadline anyway. In other words, Judge Contreras went out of his way to invalidate the ERA when it would have been easy for him to say nothing at all or uphold it. Here’s why.

The Plaintiffs argued that the ERA deadline was not valid because it was placed in the ERA’s preamble (introductory section) rather than the text of the ERA itself. This is important because Congress only recently started putting deadlines in preambles. For a very long time in this country there were no deadlines in any amendments, and when Congress started imposing deadlines, they placed them in the text because the States have a right under Article V of the Constitution to participate as equals with the federal government in deciding whether to amend the Constitution. The States cannot participate as equals when amendments contain important language in preambles because the States can only ratify amendments; they have no authority to vote on language in preambles. Only if a deadline is placed in the text can States decide for themselves whether they want their equal ratification rights restricted by a time limit.

When deciding whether the placement of the ERA’s deadline in its preamble rendered the deadline unconstitutional, Judge Contreras analyzed whether Congress itself had doubts about the constitutionality of placing the deadline in a preamble. If they did have doubts, Judge Contreras could have invalidated the ERA deadline on the grounds that its constitutionality was not clear at the time it was imposed. But Judge Contreras said Congress had no doubts. 

He was wrong.

Judge Contreras said Congress “did not expect that changing the location of a deadline [from the text of an amendment to its preamble] would affect the deadline’s effectiveness.” Op. p.31.

In fact, Congress did have doubts because no court had ever before ruled that Congress could place a deadline in a preamble. It was an issue of first impression, which means the judge had enormous leeway in deciding whether to uphold the deadline because there was no binding precedent forcing him to rule a certain way.

This is exactly the type of case where a judge’s values make a difference. A judge who sincerely believed that women deserve constitutional equality would have seized the opportunity to rule against the deadline simply because no existing law or court ruling compelled him to rule otherwise.

Here are the facts Judge Contreras ignored – that he could have and should have relied on to rule that the ERA deadline is not valid because Congress was not confident that placing a deadline in a preamble was constitutional.

Imposition of ratification deadlines began relatively recently with the 18th Amendment in 1917 and have been imposed only a handful of times. Most of our amendments had no deadline at all. A deadline was imposed on the 18th but not the 19th Amendment. And the placement of deadlines has been inconsistent. Some were placed in preambles, while others were placed in the text.

When Congress was proposing to add a deadline to the preamble of the 20th Amendment in 1932, some members of Congress objected on the grounds that placing it in a preamble would be “of no avail” as it would not be “part of the proposed constitutional amendment.” 75 Cong. Rec. 3856 (1932). Congress thus placed deadlines only in the text of the next three amendments.

It was not until 1960 that Congress first placed a deadline in a preamble, claiming a need to “declutter” the text. But if decluttering the text were truly the goal (rather than limiting States’ rights by restricting the time they have to ratify) why would Congress have “cluttered” the text of the ERA with procedural matters such as delaying the ERA’s effective date for two years after ratification? It makes no sense that the States were able to vote on whether the ERA should have a two-year delay in enforcement after ratification because that language was in the text, but States were not able to vote on whether their Article V rights should be restricted by a congressionally imposed ratification deadline because that language was in the preamble.

As recently as 1978, Congress placed a deadline in the text and the preamble of an amendment, indicating they remain dubious about the constitutional legitimacy of placing deadlines in preambles. 92 Stat. 3795 (1978).

All these facts were excluded from Judge Contreras’ ruling killing the ERA. Women have a right to know why a judge would ignore such important information in a case of monumental importance to half the population in America.

Judge Contreras justified his decision by saying that “if Congress can dictate the mode of ratification” in the preamble, “then it should be able to dictate a ratification deadline in the same fashion.” This makes no sense. “Mode of ratification” refers to whether the ratification process occurs by State conventions or State legislatures. Congress may dictate which of these modes is used because Article V of the Constitution explicitly gives Congress this power. Article V does not give Congress the power to restrict States’ rights by limiting the time they have to ratify an amendment. To the contrary, the Framers were clear that amendatory powers must be shared equally between the national and state governments and allowing Congress to dictate how long the States have to ratify an amendment is tantamount to giving Congress sole authority to decide when our Constitution is amended – in blatant derogation of Article V.

This was one of the most important women’s rights legal controversies ever, yet a judge who easily could have declared women fully equal persons under the law declined to do so, and he based his decision on incorrect facts. His ruling prevented women from achieving equality and effectively changed Article V by stripping the States of their vital right to participate in the amendatory process as equals. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that a judge willing to disregard women’s equal rights was willing to disregard States’ equal rights, too.

That Judge Contreras was appointed by President Obama matters because a judge women would expect to uphold the ERA and condemn our Constitution’s pervasive and embarrassing subjugation of women, did the opposite. The good news is women can now see that our only hope for fixing the Fourteenth Amendment and achieving full equal protection rights is the establishment of our own Women’s Party – or similar form of union-like organization whose sole purpose is to give women the leverage they need to force one party or the other to do the right thing. This is how women won the right to vote. They formed their own political party and established their own newspapers because neither the media nor either political party supported them.

A new Women’s Party or like organization need not focus on the ERA per se. Indeed, in light of recent efforts to change the meaning of the word sex and erase the very idea of women’s existence as a biological and political class by collapsing sex and gender, and making gender mutable, militates in favor of focusing energy instead on initiatives and laws to affirm the definition of sex and the reality of womanness. Without sex there are no women, and without women there can be no political activism on behalf of women. This is not complicated. The fight for equality is now a fight against women’s invisibility. We cannot play by the rules when we don’t exist in the rules. Most mainstream women’s groups are proxies for the Democratic Party; they will never protect sex and sex-based rights. We need a new movement with incorruptible nonpartisan leadership and a laser-focus on maintaining and growing the enormous potential and power of biological and political sex.

A CENTURY AFTER WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE: THE STRUGGLE FOR THE ERA

Don’t miss this special Zoom event on Sunday, August 30th at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time.


Feminists in Struggle hosts:

A CENTURY AFTER WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE: THE STRUGGLE FOR THE ERA

This event will be a discussion and update on the struggle to enshrine the Equal Rights Amendment into the U.S. Constitution. This special centennial program celebrates the 100th anniversary of the winning of women’s suffrage with a special forum on the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).

Get your tickets here – only $5!

The ERA was introduced by Suffragist Alice Paul in 1920 to establish constitutionally protected sex-based rights of women against discrimination. It says simply “Equal rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex.”

100 years later, the ERA has been ratified by the 38 states required and feminists are fighting a court battle against the archivist of the U.S. Constitution seeking that the ERA be certified and officially added to the federal constitution.

Speakers:

Kamala Lopez is an award-winning filmmaker, actress and activist.  Kamala co-wrote and produced the documentary, “Equal Means Equal” that documented sex inequality in the U.S. and the need for the ERA. The film won Best U.S. Documentary and was a New York TImes Critics’ Pick. The film was the catalyst behind a national movement resulting in the ratification of the ERA. Kamala is a recipient of the Woman of Courage Award from the National Women’s Political Caucus.

Natalie White is a provocative and progressive feminist and artist and a crusader for women’s rights. In 2016 she led a 250 mile march from NYC to DC to raise awareness of the Equal Rights Amendment. The day after the march, she was arrested for painting “ERA NOW” on the U.S. Capitol steps. She is co-director of Equal Means Equal Organization with Kamala Lopez.

Ann Menasche is a civil rights lawyer. radical feminist and founding member of Feminists in Struggle. She marched in NYC on August 26, 1970 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of women’s suffrage, an event that marked the beginnings of the Second Wave of Feminism. She is dedicated to preserving and expanding the sex-based rights of women and girls.

JOIN US FOR THIS IMPORTANT EVENT ON FINALLY WINNING CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS FOR WOMEN!!

ERA NOW!! FIST SUPPORTS EME’S LAWSUIT

Even though the Equal Rights Amendment was ratified by the required 38th state on January 15, 2020, the Trump Administration’s justice department is holding it up from being recorded by the archivist so it can become part of the U. S. Constitution. To quote EME’s statement:

The lawsuit filed in January in U.S. District Court in Boston argues that congressionally imposed deadlines for states to ratify the ERA are unconstitutional and called on the courts to compel the Archivist of the United States to officially record ERA as the 28th amendment to the Constitution. The complaint also calls on the courts to reject any attempts by states to rescind their prior ratifications of the ERA. It is the first lawsuit regarding the newly ratified ERA to arrive in court, and the only ERA lawsuit brought entirely by women.

We at Feminists in Struggle support the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment because women are discriminated against because of our sex.  We endure sexual assault, harassment, domestic abuse, job discrimination, and unequal pay simply due to being female, We are the only group that is not recognized in the federal constitution, and the only remedy to all of the assaults on women’s reproductive rights, bodily sovereignty, agency, freedom, and dignity is to record the ratification of the ERA into the U. S. Constitution so that it can finally become the law of the land.

We fully support Equal Means Equal’s Amicus Brief and the lawsuit filed in January calling on the courts to compel the archivist to officially record the ERA as the 28th amendment to the Constitution.  We need to finish the job of establishing equality under the law by finally ratifying the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) and CEDAW (the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women).

International Women’s Day 2020

Today is International Women’s Day and marks Feminists in Struggle’s 1 year anniversary!  We want to thank everyone who has joined us in the struggle to reignite a strong women’s movement in  order to finish the job First Wave and Second Wave feminists began.  We are so grateful for their sacrifices and contributions and we acknowledge all the women working for the global liberation of women around the world.

We particularly want to recognize the women of the #MeToo Movement who took personal risk to come forward to hold sexual predators accountable, the women behind the Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights, and the efforts of organizations like Equal Means Equal that have worked tirelessly to bring the Equal Rights Amendment to the finish line.  It was 100 years ago this year that First Wave feminists won the right to vote, and 97 years after its first introduction that the ERA reached the milestone of the 38th state for ratification!!

We look forward to many more accomplishments of present-day feminists to fight back against the enemies of women’s freedom and autonomy.  Please join us at Feminist Struggle and help us continue the struggle for the liberation of all women!

FIST and Equal Means Equal on Joy of Resistance Radio Show

Our own Ann Menasche appeared on the Joy of Resistance show on WBAI hosted by Fran Luck talking about our Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act which make a distinction between rights based on sex and rights based on gender non-conformity and sexual orientation.  Ann articulated the reasons for the feminist amendments as many rights for which women have fought would be eroded under the Equality Act.

Another very important topic was covered on the show–the ratification of THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT BY BOTH VIRGINIA STATE HOUSES TODAY, January 27, 2020!!  Kamala Lopez of Equal Means Equal was interviewed on the show who explained that there is no need to pass legislation to do away with the imposed deadlines on the legislation because no deadline was included in the legislation, it was a separate bill on which the states did not vote, that Congress did its job in 1972, and we should not get mired down in more Congressional action, as some suggest, by pursuing the passage of legislation doing away with the deadline because the deadline does not matter.

She stated that the Alabama Attorney General filed suit asserting that the archivist should not record Virginia’s 38th state ratification, even though the same archivist recorded the last two states, Nevada (2017) and Illinois (2018). Equal Means Equal has filed suit to make sure the ratification is recorded and will be pursuing various cases across the nation to make sure it becomes part of the U. S. Constitution at long last.  It will be making a Federalist Originalist argument outlined in the Constitution, which will be very difficult for the conservative court to rule against.

Kamala Lopez explained that without the ERA, we will never have equal work for equal pay and that strict scrutiny regarding discrimination under the ERA will finally be required on the basis of sex as it has been for religion, nationality, and race.  She urged listeners to go to Equal Means Equal and sign up for their newsletter and to show up in Richmond, VA on March 8, 2020, International Women’s Day and the centennial of women’s suffrage, to march in the ERA Parade to celebrate it’s ratification.

The show also briefly covered the WoLF events which were scheduled at two public libraries, Seattle and NYC, and how NYCPL cancelled their event while Seattle has refused to cancel theirs.

More about this program at WBAI

ERA JUST GOT RATIFIED IN THE 38TH STATE!!

We are thrilled to learn that on January 15th, 2020 the Virginia legislature has voted to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment!  It’s about time, Virginia, but thank you for finally acting on behalf of the women of the United States to end our second-class citizenship!

The Equal Rights Amendment reads as follows:

“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.

Equal Means Equal and other groups were there to ensure that the Virginia legislature did not forget its promise to vote to ratify the ERA nearly 50 years after it was introduced in the U. S. Congress in 1972 and almost 100 years after it was first introduced in 1923 as the Lucretia Mott Amendment.  Many of us marched for the ERA and were disheartened when it did not reach the critical 38 states in 1982, but some of us never gave up the fight.  We wish to thank our sisters for their hard work and perseverance in pursuing ERA ratification!

Though there are still a few hurdles to its being enshrined in the Constitution as the 28th Amendment, it is way past time that women’s rights be fully recognized!  We will continue to fight until that happens!!