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January 3, 2022

ATTORNEY GENERAL RAOUL FILES OPENING BRIEF WITH APPELLATE COURT IN LAWSUIT TO ENSURE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT IS RECOGNIZED AS 28TH AMENDMENT

Chicago  — Attorney General Kwame Raoul, along with Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, today filed an opening brief with a federal appeals court in their lawsuit seeking to ensure the federal government acknowledges the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) as the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The ERA guarantees equal rights for all Americans regardless of their sex.

Raoul and the attorneys general filed the brief today in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The attorneys general initiated the lawsuit in 2020, but a lower-court judge dismissed it in March 2021 – a decision the attorneys general have appealed. In the brief, Raoul and the attorneys general argue that the lower court overlooked the role that Article V of the Constitution gives states in the amendment process, improperly discounted the actions of the Illinois, Nevada, and Virginia state legislatures in ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, and gave too much weight to seven-year deadline for ratification that Congress included in its language proposing the amendment.

“As our fight to ensure the Equal Rights Amendment is recognized as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution officially enters a new year, I am struck that Congress first considered an equal rights amendment nearly 100 years ago,” Raoul said. “One hundred years is far too long to wait for equality under the law, and I am hopeful 2022 will be the year that equal treatment for all Americans is enshrined and acknowledged as part of our nation’s Constitution.”

“The ERA has been properly ratified by the states and any attempt to prevent its inclusion in the Constitution is without basis in law,” Herring said. “The Equal Rights Amendment will finally ensure true equality in our nation’s foundational document and correct an injustice of historic proportions. For more than two centuries women have fought for recognition of the rights, privileges, and responsibilities that should be guaranteed to each of us by the Constitution. This unlawful and unexplainable obstruction must end, and the ERA must be certified, published, and made a full part of our Constitution.”

“The Equal Rights Amendment must be included in our nation’s Constitution – all legal prerequisites have been filled,” Ford said. “It is time for this decades-long fight to come to an end and for the Constitution to formally and legally protect the rights of women. Thirty-eight states have ratified this amendment, and now it falls to our colleague states and us to continue the fight. We will not stop, and we will not give up the fight women trailblazers started so long ago.”

“We are grateful to the Attorneys General for driving this litigation forward. The ERA has met all the constitutional requirements for an amendment, and the Archivist has a duty to publish it, providing official notice to all 50 States that the ERA is now the Twenty-Eighth Amendment to the Constitution,” Carol Jenkins, President and CEO of the ERA Coalition said. “There can be no time limit on equality.”

The ERA states that “[e]quality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” It provides an explicit guarantee of protection, enshrined in the United States Constitution, against discrimination based on sex. Although an equal rights amendment was considered as early as 1923, Congress did not propose the ERA to the states until 1972, when it passed with broad, bipartisan support. By 1977, 35 states had ratified the ERA. Illinois ratified the ERA in 2018. When combined with Nevada’s ratification in 2017 and Virginia’s ratification in 2020, a total of 38 states have now ratified the ERA, passing the constitutional threshold required for it to become a part of the Constitution. Regardless, the United States archivist, who is responsible for publishing and certifying constitutional amendments, has declined to publish and certify the ERA.

Attorney General Raoul, with Attorneys General Ford and Herring, filed a lawsuit in 2020 to ensure that the Equal Rights Amendment is acknowledged as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution. Approximately 108 business groups, 95 advocacy groups and bar associations, and 19 states and the District of Columbia filed amicus briefs in the lower court supporting the lawsuit.

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