Posted on April 26, 2023 Democracy Amendments Share: The Equal Rights Amendment, first introduced in 1972, met the criteria for publication in January 2020, when Virginia became the 38th state to ratify it. WASHINGTON, DC (April 26, 2023) A coalition of democracy and gender equality advocates issued a letter to President Biden today urging him to instruct the Acting Archivist of the U.S., Debra Steidel Wall to fulfill her duty to publish the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) with her certificate, declaring that it has become part of the Constitution of the United States. The coalition includes Free Speech For People, Generation Ratify, Equal Rights Action, The Social Equity through Education Alliance, and Voters of Tomorrow. “It has been more than three years since Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment,” the letter states. “In the interim, people across our country continue to be denied equal rights under the law on account of their sex, and have experienced new legal assaults on their rights, including limits on their reproductive freedom, access to appropriate medical care, and ability to express their gender. The publication and certification of the ERA by the national archivist is long overdue.” The constitutional requirements for certifying new amendments are approval by two-thirds of both chambers of Congress and ratification by three-fourths of the states.The Equal Rights Amendment, first introduced in 1972, met the criteria for publication in January 2020, when Virginia became the 38th state to ratify it. Under the direction of former Attorney General Bill Barr, the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) argued in a January 2020 memo that the archivist should not publish the ERA because the final states to ratify the amendment did so outside a time limit imposed by Congress. Former National Archivist David Ferriero, in accordance with this opinion, refused to certify and publish the ERA. But as the letter argues, this deadline was not included in the text of the amendment and therefore lacks constitutional authority. “As soon as Virginia provided official notice to Mr. Ferriero, it was his responsibility to publish the amendment. He failed to do so, yet the duty to publish remains,” said Courtney Hostetler, Senior Counsel at Free Speech For People. “Ms. Steidel Wall should correct the error and fulfill her duties as the acting Archivist to publish the Equal Rights Amendment.” “The Equal Rights Amendment is the legal force young people need today to experience reproductive autonomy and queer liberation. Youth organizers, including Alice Paul, Anita Pollitzer, Elizabeth Holtzman, and Margaret Sloan, have proudly led the ERA movement for the past 100 years. Now the ball is in the Executive Branch’s court. Archivist Debra Streidel Wall and President Biden – We, the youth of America, need you to act now. Publish the Equal Rights Amendment as the 28th amendment to the United States Constitution, including women and queer people in the United States Constitution.” Lauren Perl, National Policy Director, Generation Ratify “What would those who oppose equality do if they were just one signature away from changing the U.S. Constitution? They would do anything possible to get it across the finish line. It is imperative that as equality advocates we muster that same energy for the effort to finalize the Equal Rights Amendment. President Biden must instruct the Archivist of the U.S. to certify and publish the ERA today. It will be the most consequential act of his presidency—and has the potential to improve the lives of millions of Americans.” Kate Kelly, Esq., Founder of Equal Rights Action “Publishing the ERA will provide marginalized young Americans with a new line of defense between themselves and the oppressive anti-queer and anti-woman legislation being implemented across the United States. By providing this defense, President Joe Biden will have taken a great step forward in granting young people the tools they need to step into, own, and channel their power.” Anya Dennison, Head of Staff, Social Equity through Education Alliance “Young people have the most to gain and the most to lose in the fight for constitutional gender equality. Amidst nationwide attacks on young people, from Don’t Say Gay laws to restrictions on gender-affirming healthcare, this fact has become exceedingly clear. The ERA would create a strong judicial framework for challenging these discriminatory policies and more. It is President Biden’s duty to instruct the National Archivist to publish the ERA to protect young people across the country, who are being increasingly victimized by attempts to legislate hate.” Aarush Santoshi, Chapter Operations Manager, Voters of Tomorrow Publishing the Equal Rights Amendment holds added consequence in the midst of ongoing legislative battles regarding, among other things, a woman’s right to bodily autonomy and legal protections for transgender people and members of the LGBTQ+ community, particularly minors. The Constitution currently lacks language that prevents discrimination on the basis of sex. Read the full letter here.