On February 13, 2020, by a vote of 232 Yeas to 183 Nays, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Joint Resolution 79. This resolution would retroactively remove the ratification deadline from the original Equal Rights Amendment legislation passed by Congress in 1972, HJR 208 of the 92nd Congress. H.J. Res. 79 is a desperate attempt by Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats to circumvent the legislative process and rule of law in order to ram through the ERA into the Constitution. H.J. Res. 79, reads:
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That notwithstanding any time limit contained in House Joint Resolution 208, 92d 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 United States Constitution whenever ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States.
However, on January 6, 2020, the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel stated:
Congress may not revive a proposed amendment after a deadline for its ratification has expired. Should Congress wish to propose the amendment anew, it may do so through the same procedures required to propose an amendment in the first instance, consistent with Article V of the Constitution.
Nevertheless, H.J.Res. 79, would remove the ratification deadline from the original 1972 ERA resolution (HJR 208 of the 92nd Congress). However, the current 116th Congress cannot modify HJR 208 of the 92nd Congress for the simple reason that that bill no longer exists. Congress can no more change HJR 208 of the 92nd Congress then it can modify or change any other bill or resolution from a previous Congress.
HJR 208 included a seven-year sunset provision, with a deadline of March 22, 1979. In 1975, falling short of the three-fourths of the states (38 out of 50) required to ratify an amendment to the Constitution, Congress voted to extend the ratification deadline to June 30, 1982. However, no additional states ratified the ERA between 1979 and 1982.
In fact, five states — Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, Tennessee, and South Dakota — all of which had previously voted to ratify the ERA, rescinded (i.e. withdrew) their ratifications of the ERA.
Thirty-eight years after the extended and final deadline for ratification, Congress cannot now arbitrarily decide to remove the past deadline. To do so would violate the basic operating principles of Congress’ legislative process. The 1972 Equal Rights Amendment is dead and any attempt to resurrect it in order to continue the ratification process is illegitimate.
Phone your representative (202-225-3121) and senators (202-224-3121) or scroll below (or over to the left of your screen) to send an editable, pre-written email message to your members of Congress in order to urge them to oppose H.J. Res. 79, by voting NO on the resolution should it come to a vote on the floor of the Senate.
By a vote of 232 Yeas to 183 Nays, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.J. Res. 79, which would remove the ratification deadline from the original ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) legislation passed by Congress in 1972, in order to resurrect the ERA and ram through as part of the Constitution.