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Equal Rights Amendment

What is the Equal Rights Amendment?

The Equal Rights Amendment was passed by Congress in 1972 and sent to the states for ratification. Only 35 of the necessary 38 states ratified it before the deadline passed in 1982. In March 2017, Nevada became the 36th state to ratify the amendment. On April 11, 2018, the Illinois Senate voted to ratify the ERA, and on May 30, 2018, the Illinois House joined the Senate and made Illinois the 37th state to ratify the amendment. After the 38th ratification, the ERA can go back to Congress to remove, extend, or waive the deadline Congress placed on ratification in the 1970s. Bills to remove the deadline have been introduced in both houses, and the House Bill was passed out of the Judiciary Committee on November 13, 2019.

Currently, the Constitution does not guarantee that all the rights it protects are held equally by all citizens without regard to sex. With 24 words, the Equal Rights Amendment would change that. It would provide that “[e]quality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex.” It would also give Congress the power to enforce that constitutional guarantee by passing legislation. 

Answers to Frequently Asked Legal Questions

Winston & Strawn ERA Involvement

Winston’s Commitment

Winston has joined the movement supporting ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, joining forces with activists in Illinois, North Carolina, and Virginia.

November 27, 2019: Linda Coberly talked to the Los Angeles Times about why the Equal Rights Amendment is still vital, both legally and symbolically.

November 15, 2019: Linda Coberly delivered a keynote on the Equal Rights Amendment at The ABA’s 2019 Women in Litigation Joint CLE Conference.

November 7, 2019: Linda Coberly, Jeffrey Kessler, Jeanifer Parsigian, and Eva Cole presented “Equal Pay: Stories From the Us Women's Soccer Team and the Law” at the National Association of Women Lawyers General Counsel Institute.

October 18, 2019: Linda Coberly discusses the Equal Rights Amendment on Princeton Alumni Weekly’s podcast.

July 25, 2019: Linda Coberly participated in a panel of bipartisan experts led by U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Lisa Murkowski that outlined why Congress should remove the deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

April 15, 2019: Winston invited women law student organization members from the University of Chicago, Northwestern, UCLA, and USC to attend viewings in our Chicago and Los Angeles offices of ERA Coalition’s national Campus ERA Day program featuring actress Patricia Arquette and Nevada State Senator Pat Spearman among the panelists.

March 2, 2019: Linda Coberly addressed the ERA at the LWVIL Issues Briefing 2019.

On February 28, 2019: Partners Linda Coberly and Kathi Vidal spoke at the National Association of Women Lawyers’ 2018 Mid-Year Meeting.

February 7, 2019: Linda Coberly discusses the status and implications of ratification on Jeffrey Rosen’s We the People podcast from the National Constitution Center.

On February 4, 2019, Winston joined the national ERA Coalition—a group of organizations working toward passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Winston Partner Linda Coberly will serve as the Chair of the Coalition’s Legal Task Force.

November 9, 2018: In support of ratification in Virginia, Linda Coberly was a featured speaker at a symposium at William & Mary Law School.

July 12, 2018: Winston & Strawn’s Women’s Leadership Initiative and The Equal Rights Amendment North Carolina Alliance hosted a reception and panel discussion in support of the effort to make North Carolina the 38th state to ratify the ERA.

May 30, 2018: The Illinois House joined the Senate in voting to make Illinois the 37th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Along with a broad coalition, Winston worked to bring about this result.

May 7, 2018: Linda Coberly testified in support of ratification in Illinois. The testimony can be viewed here, starting at 1:24:55.

May 1, 2018: Winston hosted “The Equal Rights Amendment: Legal Issues and Implications,” a webinar designed to answer recurring questions about the legal implications of ratification.

April 28, 2018: Winston hosted a meeting in Charlotte, N.C. with the leadership of the ERA-NC Alliance. Winston Litigation Partner Joanna Wade has since become that organization’s co-president.

March 14, 2018: Winston hosted a screening of the award-winning documentary Equal Means Equal, followed by a conversation with the film’s director, Kamala Lopez, and a panel discussion moderated by Winston Labor & Employment Partner Laura Petroff, and featuring Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang of the Illinois House of Representatives, Illinois Action Founder Jennifer Camille Lee, and Linda Coberly, Chicago Managing Partner and Chair of Winston & Strawn’s Appellate & Critical Motions Practice.

January 19, 2018: Winston convened a meeting with key Illinois legislators and activists.

ERA-RELATED PUBLICATIONS

- ERA FAQs.
- “Why hasn’t the Equal Rights Amendment been ratified?Politico, August 26, 2019
- ERA Coalition Memorandum to Members of the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, April 30, 2019.
- “The Journey Toward the Equal Rights Amendment Began Decades Ago, but Activists Say the Finish Line Is in Sight,” CNN, March 8, 2019.
- “Do American Women Still Need an Equal Rights Amendment?The New York Times, February 16, 2019.
- “Advocates Reignite the Fight for an Equal Rights Amendment,” November 6, 2018.
The ERA Is Back,” Slate, April 23, 2018.
EditorialThe New York Times, April 19, 2018.
Editorial, The Chicago Tribune, April 13, 2018
Linda Coberly: Why I support the Equal Rights Amendment,” Women’s Bar Association of Illinois, April 2018.
- “The Time Is Now for the Equal Rights Amendment,” Forbes, March 7, 2018.
- The Proposed Equal Rights Amendment: Contemporary Ratification Issues, Congressional Research Service, July 2017.
- “The Equal Rights Amendment: Why the ERA Remains Legally Viable and Properly Before the States,” Allison Held et al., William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law, Spring 1997.