Congressman Tom McClintock

Representing the 4th District of California

H.J. Res. 17 - Removing the Deadline for Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment: No

March 17, 2021

(Washington, D.C.) - Congressman McClintock delivered the following remarks on the House floor in oppostion to H.J. Res. 17.  The legislation seeks to remove the deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

H.J. Res. 17 - Removing the Deadline for Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment: No

Mr. Chairman:

          Nearly a half century ago, Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment and sent it to the states with a seven-year deadline for ratification.  When that deadline expired in 1979, it was three states short of passage.  Many states rejected it because it was duplicative of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.  Our Constitution already guarantees that all Americans receive equal protection under the law, and indeed these provisions have driven our progress as a society.  More importantly, many felt that the ERA would unleash a crippling avalanche of activist legislation that could have unforeseen and unintended implications to issues ranging from abortion to freedom of conscience and freedom of speech.

          Now today, 50 years after its adoption, the Democrats proposed to retroactively amend the ERA to remove its deadline.  They argue that Congress can alter amendments it has sent to the states even a half century later, and yet still count their ratification votes from a half century ago.  This would allow them to add three states that voted to ratify long after the deadline was passed for the very amendment that established that deadline.

          Of course, they don’t explain how to deal with the five states that have since rescinded their ratification votes. 

          The courts have already ruled against this approach as brazenly unconstitutional.  As Ruth Bader Ginsberg, an ardent supporter of the ERA, pointed out a few years ago, “if you count a latecomer on the plus side, how can you disregard states that said, ‘we’ve changed our minds?’” 

          If the majority were serious, they would re-introduce the ERA and debate it openly and constitutionally, as Justice Ginsburg suggested.  They won’t, because they know that in the nearly half century that has passed since the ERA was proposed, the world has passed them by.