Ford, Democratic AGs launch broadside against GOP anti-ERA suit

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Supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment stand outside the entrance to the Virginia Capitol in Richmond on the opening day of the 2020 legislative session. (Photo: Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)
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Supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment stand outside the entrance to the Virginia Capitol in Richmond on the opening day of the 2020 legislative session. (Photo: Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

in 2017, Nevada became the 36th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, the first state to ratify it since North Dakota in 1975. In 2018, Illinois became the 37th. Democrats won control of both houses of the Virginia General Assembly in November, and Virginia is expected to become the 38th state to ratify the ERA this year.

Thirty-eight states is equal to the three-fourths required to ratify the amendment and add it to the U.S. Constitution.

So Republicans have sued.

In December, Republican attorneys general from Alabama, Louisiana and South Dakota filed a suit to block the ERA, arguing the deadline for ratification has expired.

Yesterday, the seven-member executive committee for the Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA), which includes Nevada Democratic AG Aaron Ford, blasted the GOP suit.

“We stand with women and for equality. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same of these Republican Attorneys General,” the DAGA executive committee said in a statement. “We urge our colleagues from across the aisle to reconsider this wrongheaded waste of taxpayer dollars. It’s 2020, not 1920.”

The ERA was first introduced in Congress in 1923 and was passed overwhelmingly by the House and Senate in the 1970s, but failed to win approval by the 38 states needed for ratification. 

When Congress initially passed the ERA, it set a 1979 ratification deadline for states, which was later extended to 1982. In November, the House Judiciary Committee approved a resolution to remove the deadline.

That resolution, which will go to the full House for a vote, has the backing of 217 co-sponsors, including two Republicans, Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Tom Reed of New York.

Nevada Reps. Steven Horsford, Susie Lee and Dina Titus, all Democrats, are also co-sponsors.

These same Republican Attorneys General are trying to gut health care for millions of Americans, roll back environmental protections, and reverse years of progress in reproductive freedom,” the DAGA executive committee said this week. “At least now they are making abundantly clear what we’ve known all along—they do not believe in equality for women. This preemptive lawsuit is a blatant effort to thwart our democracy and block women from gaining Constitutional equality, which is already long overdue.”

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson has been writing and reporting about Nevada policy and politics since 1997. He was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and wrote the then-groundbreaking Las Vegas Gleaner, which among other things was the only independent political blog from Nevada that was credentialed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He spent a few years as a senior energy and environmental policy analyst for Public Citizen, and has occasionally worked as a consultant on mining, taxation, education and other issues for Nevada labor and public interest organizations. His freelance work has been published in outlets ranging from the Guardian to Desert Companion to In These Times to the Oil & Gas Journal. For several years he also taught U.S. History courses at UNLV. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and editor at the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune.