Chairman Nadler Floor Statement in Support of H.J.Res. 79, "Removing the Deadline for the Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment"
Washington, February 13, 2020
Washington, D.C. –Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following remarks, as prepared, on the House floor in support of H.J.Res. 79, a joint resolution that would remove the deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA):
"Madam Speaker, H.J. Res. 79 is long overdue legislation to ensure that the Equal Rights Amendment can finally become the 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
"This year, we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote. Despite the century that has elapsed, our Constitution still does not recognize or guarantee full equal protection of the law for women and gender minorities, but H.J. Res. 79 would bring us one step closer.
"The resolution removes a previous deadline Congress set for ratifying the ERA, and will, therefore, ensure that recent ratifications by Nevada, Illinois, and Virginia are given full effect.
"The ERA offers a basic and fundamental guarantee: 'Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.' In the years since it was passed by overwhelming, bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate, we have made great strides to secure that equality, including through existing case law decided under the Fourteenth Amendment. The ERA would enshrine those principles and take the final, critical step of ensuring that laws disadvantaging women and gender minorities are subject to the most rigorous form of scrutiny.
"In recent years, we have seen a series of breakthroughs for women’s rights and gender equality. We have seen millions of women march in support of their rights and dignity as equal citizens. Through the 'me too' movement, we have had long-overdue, and sometimes painful, conversations about the violence and harassment that women and gender minorities experience—whether in the workplace, at home, or in schools and universities.
"We have seen women get elected to Congress in record numbers. And just weeks ago, Virginia became the necessary 38th State to pass a resolution ratifying the ERA.
"We are on the brink of making history, and no deadline should stand in the way. The Constitution itself places no deadlines on the process for ratifying amendments—making it doubtful whether Congress can impose such a deadline in the first place. But even if it can, Congress just as clearly has the authority to extend or remove any deadlines that it previously chose to set.
"I want to thank Representative Jackie Speier for introducing this resolution, which takes that important step. This resolution will ensure, at long last, that the Equal Rights Amendment can take its rightful place as part of our Nation’s Constitution.
"I reserve the balance of my time."