Illinois takes Equal Rights Amendment to appeals court

Illinois takes Equal Rights Amendment to appeals court

Capitol News Illinois

SPRINGFIELD – Attorneys for the state of Illinois joined their colleagues in Nevada and Virginia Wednesday in asking a federal appellate court to declare that the Equal Rights Amendment has been legally ratified as the 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“I have a daughter who intends to practice law, and the Constitution she will pledge to protect should fully protect her as well,” Attorney General Kwame Raoul said in a statement released after the oral arguments. “Until the United States Constitution reflects our society’s commitment to not go backward, none of us should stop fighting for equality.”

Illinois Solicitor General Jane Notz argued the state’s case before the appellate court.

The push for an amendment barring discrimination on the basis of sex was first proposed in Congress in 1923. But it wasn’t until 1972 that an amendment finally cleared both chambers of Congress by two-thirds majorities and was sent to the states for ratification.

The proposed amendment reads: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

At issue in the case is a clause in the original resolution that said it would become valid when ratified by  three-fourths of the states “within seven years from the date of its submission by the Congress.”

Thirty-eight states are needed for ratification of an amendment, but when the deadline lapsed in 1979, only 35 states had ratified the amendment, and six of those had taken subsequent votes to rescind their endorsement of the amendment.

At one point, Congress tried to extend the deadline into 1982, but that was quickly challenged in court and before the U.S. Supreme Court could hear arguments in the case, the extended deadline lapsed.

Years later, in 2017, Nevada became the first state to ratify the amendment after the deadline. Illinois followed suit in 2018 and Virginia voted to ratify the amendment in 2020, making it the 38th state to vote for ratification.

Shortly after the Virginia vote, Illinois and Nevada joined Virginia in filing a lawsuit seeking an order for National Archivist David Ferriero to publish and certify the amendment as part of the U.S. Constitution.

But in a ruling handed down in March 2021, a federal judge dismissed the case, saying among other things that certification by the archivist would have no legal effect, and therefore his refusal to certify did not cause the plaintiffs any harm and that Congress was within its authority to set a deadline for ratification.

Illinois and Nevada appealed that ruling. Virginia did not take part in the appeal.

In the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Illinois and Nevada argued that the lower court got the decision wrong.

They argued that the process of ratifying constitutional amendments is spelled out in Article V of the Constitution, which says nothing about Congress having authority to set deadlines for ratification. They also argued that the Constitution is silent on whether states can rescind their ratification of an amendment after already having voted to do so.

Ferriero was joined by five states opposing the amendment – Alabama, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Tennessee – in arguing that the ERA had not been duly ratified.

They argued that Congress does have a right to set deadlines for ratification and, in fact, has used a seven-year deadline several times, beginning with the 18th amendment that established prohibition, which was ratified in 1919.

They also argued that states have a right to rescind their ratification if a proposed amendment does not achieve the three-fourths threshold within a reasonable period of time.

“They didn’t intend the ERA to float in the ether for all eternity,” the lawyers wrote in their briefs. “Simply put, the world is different now than it was in 1972. Nearly every legislator that voted to ratify the ERA is either deceased or no longer in office. Even the youngest eligible voter that year would be nearly 70 years old now.”

Finally, they also argued that the Equal Rights Amendment itself is not really about preventing gender-based discrimination but, rather, “creating a federal constitutional backstop for abortion rights.”

A three-judge panel of the court took the case under advisement but did not indicate when they would issue a decision. Regardless of how they rule, the case is almost certain to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We are grateful to the Attorneys General for pursuing this important litigation,” Zakiya Thomas, president and CEO of the ERA Coalition, said in a statement. “The ERA has met all the constitutional requirements for an amendment, and the Archivist has a statutory duty to publish it. Publication will give official notice to all 50 states that the ERA is now the Twenty-Eighth Amendment.”


Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government that is distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.


Leave a Comment

Local News

Multi Hall of Famer Mary Pat Connolly, Marist’s only girls basketball coach, is retiring. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Area Sports Roundup: Marist coach Connolly retires

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Staff Writer The only girls basketball head coach in Marist history is retiring. Mary Pat Connolly, who started the RedHawks program in 2002 when the Chicago private school went coed, is giving up coaching the program. “It’s been a fun journey for my family,” Connolly told Daily Southtown columnist Tony…

Orland Park’s Tatumn Milazzo is high on the top of the pile for the celebration of the Red Star goal by Amanda Kowalski Saturday against Racing Louisville. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Red Stars

Pro Soccer Report: Red Stars face a potentially Challenge-ing schedule

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Staff Writer The Chicago Red Stars have put themselves in a great position to make it to the semifinals of the Challenge Cup. But is that a good thing? The Red Stars tied Racing Louisville, 1-1, on the road April 16. A victory at Kansas City this Saturday would mean…

Lopez acknowledges cheers from supporters as he announces his run for mayor in 2023. --Supplied photo

‘Chicago: I’m in!’

Spread the love

Spread the loveLopez announces mayoral run  By Tim Hadac He does not represent most Southwest Side neighborhoods, but Raymond A. Lopez wants to. The 15th Ward alderman and Democratic committeeman last week announced his candidacy for mayor. With a simple tweet (“Chicago: I’m in!”), Lopez on April 6 signaled his candidacy. At a brief press…


Boys Volleyball: Inexperienced roster has Marist off to one of best starts in program history

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Randy Whalen Correspondent Back in March, Marist began the season by winning its own tournament. While it was the first time the RedHawks hosted the tourney in three years, because of COVID, it was also the third consecutive time they won it. But with a bevy of fresh faces, this one was…

Carthage College’s men’s volleyball team is hoping for back-to-back Division III national championships. Photo by Carthage College.

College Report: Area alums gunning for back-to-back national titles with Carthage men’s volleyball

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Staff Writer This Marist/Chicago Christian/Lyons connection could lead Carthage College to another national title. Marist setter Gene McNulty, Chicago Christian middle hitter Zach Bulthuis and Lyons outside hitter Matt Slivinski helped lead the defending national champs to the Final Four of the NCAA Division III men’s volleyball tournament with a…


Baseball: Reavis ace Montalto stifles Evergreen Park again

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Steve Millar  Correspondent When Reavis junior Nathan Montalto pitched against Evergreen Park on March 29, he cruised through five innings, striking out eight and allowing just one hit in a 10-0 win for the Rams. So, when Montalto ended up facing the Mustangs a second time, he saw no need to change…


Baseball: Mt. Carmel’s Curtin tosses no-no in dominant DH sweep of Richards

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Steve Millar  Correspondent Shane Curtin’s Mount Carmel teammates made it a short outing for him on the mound. The senior pitcher made it a dominant one. Curtin, a Creighton recruit, threw a five-inning no-hitter as the host Caravan rolled to a 10-0 win over Richards in the opening game of a doubleheader…

The Encore Center for seniors is planned for the Oak Lawn Library. (file photo)

Oak Lawn plans senior center at library

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Joe Boyle Oak Lawn Mayor Terry Vorderer said that a new senior facility should return to where it was originally located — in the center of town. “Before I got elected, we had a building for seniors at 95th and Raymond,” Vorderer said during the Oak Lawn Village Board meeting Tuesday night.…

Visitors hunt for Easter eggs with flashlights at Bridgeview Park District's Commissioners Park on April 8. (Supplied photo)

Bridgeview Park District donates Easter eggs to Ukrainian refugees

Spread the love

Spread the loveFrom staff reports In a show of good will and support to the people of Ukraine, the Bridgeview Park District donated over 500 eggs to Ukrainian refugees in Poland during their annual Easter Egg Hunt on April 8. The park district invited Rev. Vasyl Sendeha, pastor of the St. Peter & Paul Ukrainian…


A century plus 2

Spread the love

Spread the love   West Lawn resident Grace Williams walked a path of rose petals as she celebrated her 102nd birthday earlier this month at Senior Suites at Midway Village, 6800 S. Keating.   Born in 1920 in Huntsville, Ala., she still reads the Bible daily and is active with Landmark Baptist Church.   She…


Hadi Isbaih

Palos Heights tax preparer convicted of Covid-relief fraud

Spread the love

Spread the loveFrom staff reports A Palos Heights tax preparer who operates a business in Bridgeview has been convicted on federal charges for fraudulently assisting customers in obtaining loans under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. The jury in U.S. District Court in Chicago on June 10 convicted Hadi Isbaih, 42, on all…

An artist's renderings of what the renovated Fine Arts Center will look like at Shepard High School, 13049 S. Ridgeland Ave., Palos Heights. (Supplied photos)

Renovations begin on Shepard High School theater

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Kelly White Shepard High School, which prides itself in the fine arts, will soon have a beautifully reconstructed theater right on its Palos Heights campus. The Community High School District 218 Board of Education recently unanimously approved funding for the renovation of the Fine Arts Center at the high school at 13049…

Ribhi “Spiderman” Gaber wishes everyone at Glen Oak School a great summer. (Photos by Nuha Abdessalam)

Young Spiderman fan wishes students a great summer

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Nuha Abdessalam Spiderman-kid bids farewell and wishes a beautiful summer break to students of Glen Oak Elementary in Hickory Hills. Since the summer of 2023, when he discovered the movie “Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse,” a story about multiple Spidermen from different dimensions, 6-year-old Ribhi Gaber has been more than just a fan…

reporter worth welcome sign

Worth finalizes rules for open burning in village

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Joe Boyle After several discussions over the past month, the Village of Worth has new guidelines for open burning by businesses and in residential areas. Mayor Mary Werner mentioned during the Worth Village Board meeting Tuesday night that a discrepancy in an ordinance regarding open burning had a 10 p.m. deadline. However,…

Residents were invited out to join Orland Township Supervisor Paul O'Grady for an event called, Minds Matter 2024, on May 16 at Orland Township, 14807 S. Ravinia Avenue in Orland Park. (Supplied photos)

Orland Township event focuses on mental health

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Kelly White Orland Township is taking the time to focus on mental health. Residents were invited out to join Orland Township Supervisor Paul O’Grady for an event called, Minds Matter 2024, on May 16 at Orland Township, located at 14807 S. Ravinia Avenue in Orland Park. “This was an excellent opportunity to…

bridgeview police logo

Bridgeview shooting not related to Summer Smash

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Bob Bong Bridgeview Police Chief Ricardo Mancha on Monday wanted to emphasize that a shooting in the village Saturday night had nothing to do with the Summer Smash music festival that took place over the weekend at SeatGeek Stadium. “It was an isolated incident,” he said. “Completely unrelated to the Summer Smash…

lyons township logo

Summer jobs available for youths through Lyons Township

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch The summer jobs program offered each year by the Township of Lyons is up and running. The program for high school and college students “is designed to give young individuals an opportunity for summer employment,” Trustee Donna McDonald said at the township board’s June 11 meeting. The jobs program started…

Countryside Mayor Sean McDermott holds his first grandson, Henry James Martin. (Photo courtesy of Sean McDermott)

Proud mayor grandpa hands out candy bars at meeting

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch It’s a tradition for new fathers to hand out cigars after the birth of a child. The cigar’s wrappers are blue for a boy and pink for a girl. If they’re non-smokers, new dads have been known to hand out bubblegum shaped like cigars. Sometimes, proud grandfathers get into the…

summit police logo

Pair busted for Summit phone store robberies

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Bob Bong Two Chicago men have been charged with robbing two phone stores in Summit earlier this year. Jacari Franklin and Austin White are charged with robbing the T-Mobile store at 5640 S. Harlem Ave. on March 28 and the AT&T store at Archer and Harlem avenues on April 18, police said.…

Bruce Quintos (right) visits with Lyons Village Trustee Dan Hilker in front of Quintos’ 1957 Chevy Bel Air that he lovingly restored. (Photos by Steve Metsch)

Car enthusiasts crowd annual Father’s Day show in Lyons.

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch Held under sunny and warm skies Sunday, the annual Father’s Day Car Show in Lyons was deemed a smashing success by participants and visitors. Not only were car lovers able to admire the four-wheeled beauties, some owners spent quality time with Dad or a spouse. Don Raschka, 80, of Central…