Letter to the Editor: The Equal Rights Amendment Does Not "Abuse" the Constitution

 In 1982, about 7,000 Equal Rights Amendment supporters demonstrated in Raleigh.

In 1982, about 7,000 Equal Rights Amendment supporters demonstrated in Raleigh.

[This letter was written by LWV-Wake ERA Committee co-chairs Sheila Denn and Elaine Okal and was published in The News & Observer.]

News & Observer - June 20, 2018

Regarding “States should leave the ERA back in the ’70s” (June 17): We reject George Will’s thesis that the Equal Rights Amendment would somehow be “abuse of the Constitution.” We fail to see how finally ensuring the rights of women in the Constitution is anything other than closing an egregious gap in the Constitution’s protections.

Will’s implicit assertion that the 14th Amendment should be enough to guarantee women protection against discrimination based on gender flies in the face of the fact that race, religion, and national origin are categories that receive strict scrutiny in discrimination cases, whereas gender is only given intermediate scrutiny.

As Justice Antonin Scalia said, “Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t.”

Scalia went on to say, in that same interview, that he thought the remedy for the situation was for legislatures to pass laws. But legislatures have passed laws, and yet discrimination continues.

Something as fundamental as the rights of half of the population should not be subject to the legislative whims of the day.

Sheila Denn and Elaine Okal

Co-Chairs, ERA Committee

League of Women Voters of Wake County