Currently, there are many states which have officially ratified the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The Equal Rights Amendment seeks to provide equal protection regardless of sex along with a judicial standard and a legal defense in regard to sex-based discrimination.
Under American law, an amendment only becomes officially recognized and added to the Constitution if it is accepted by at least three-quarters of the states that are currently in the union (excluding territories). This means that 38 of the 50 states need to officially ratify their legislature to adopt an amendment like the ERA for it to become official. While this may seem like an impediment to anything that may be considered progressive, it also makes sure that everyone takes the new legislature seriously.
This amendment to the Constitution was passed by Congress in 1972 and subsequently sent to the states for ratification. By early 1975, thirty-five states had officially approved the amendment, and the deadline was therefore extended to 1982 to give time to the other states to officially vote and enact the legislature, whether it is positive or negative. No additional states had voted to pass the ratification, so the ERA had fallen short of being implemented into the Constitution. Additionally, five of the states—Nebraska, Idaho, Tennessee, Kentucky, and South Dakota— rescinded their ratification.
Illinois and Virginia were the most recent states to ratify the ERA. Illinois did so in 2018 and Virginia in 2020. Nevada ratified the ERA in 2017. As of early 2023, thirty-three states have ratified the ERA without rescinding it, but it has reached the thirty-eight states needed.
It has been up for debate in recent years whether a state can legally withdraw its ratification after the fact. Nebraska was the first to do so on March 15, 1973. The question has become whether they are legally able to do so or not. Article 5 of the Constitution speaks only to the ability of a state to ratify an introduction of the legislature by the federal government, but not what to do in the case of a withdrawal.
Certain precedents point to the fact that every time a state has tried to withdraw its ratification, it has been met with stiff resistance federally and was not considered valid. The issue is that most of these precedents were over 100 years ago, and may not properly describe the current situation. It is likely that the rescinding of the ratification by the five states is a legal nullity.
Because there was initially a deadline of 1982, strategies have been discussed to officially pass the ERA. The "three-state strategy" was coined in 1994 when ERA bills were introduced in many states. The goal was for Congress to adjust or repeal the time limit on the ERA. At that time, three states were still needed to ratify the amendment.
As those states have now been ratified, there is a renewed interest in pursuing the three-state strategy. In January 2023, a bill was introduced and referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary to remove the deadline for the ratification of the ERA. If this bill successfully passes through the House and Senate and is signed by the President, it will become the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Date of Ratification
|Alaska||Ratified||April 5, 1972|
|California||Ratified||Nov. 13, 1972|
|Colorado||Ratified||April 21, 1972|
|Connecticut||Ratified||March 15, 1973|
|Delaware||Ratified||March 23, 1972|
|Hawaii||Ratified||March 22, 1972|
|Idaho||Ratified. But later rescinded||March 24, 1972|
|Illinois||Ratified||May 30, 2018|
|Indiana||Ratified||Jan. 24, 1977|
|Iowa||Ratified||March 24, 1972|
|Kansas||Ratified||March 28, 1972|
|Kentucky||Ratified. But later rescinded||June 27, 1972|
|Maine||Ratified||Jan. 18, 1974|
|Maryland||Ratified||May 26, 1972|
|Massachusetts||Ratified||June 21, 1972|
|Michigan||Ratified||May 22, 1972|
|Minnesota||Ratified||Feb. 8, 1973|
|Montana||Ratified||Jan. 25, 1974|
|Nebraska||Ratified||March 29, 1972|
|Nevada||Ratified. But later rescinded||March 21, 2017|
|New Hampshire||Ratified||March 23, 1972|
|New Jersey||Ratified||April 17, 1972|
|New Mexico||Ratified||Feb. 28, 1973|
|New York||Ratified||May 18, 1972|
|North Carolina||Not ratified|
|North Dakota||Ratified||Feb. 3, 1975|
|Ohio||Ratified||Feb. 7, 1974|
|Oregon||Ratified||Feb. 8, 1973|
|Pennsylvania||Ratified||Feb. 8, 1973|
|Rhode Island||Ratified||April 14, 1972|
|South Carolina||Not ratified|
|South Dakota||Ratified. But later rescinded||Feb. 5, 1973|
|Tennessee||Ratified. But later rescinded||April 4, 1972|
|Texas||Ratified||March 30, 1972|
|Vermont||Ratified||March 1, 1973|
|Virginia||Ratified||January 27, 2020|
|Washington||Ratified||March 22, 1973|
|West Virginia||Ratified||April 22, 1972|
|Wisconsin||Ratified||April 26, 1972|
|Wyoming||Ratified||Jan. 26, 1973|