RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is partnering with fellow two other democratic attorney generals in a lawsuit to recognize Virginia as the 38th and final state needed to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
The announcement comes three days after Virginia became the critical 38th state to ratify the measure, which would prohibit discrimination based on sex.
The Equal Rights Amendment states in part that “equality of all rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
ERA advocates say the amendment will enshrine equality for women into the Constitution, offering stronger protections in sex discrimination cases. Opponents warn it will erode commonsense protections for women and advance abortion access.
“We now have this historic opportunity to ensure that equal rights regardless of sex are properly recognized as part of the Constitution,” said Herring. “Virginians have made it clear that it is their will that the ERA be ratified and I now have the great honor of continuing that fight to make sure that gender equality is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing equality for generations of women to come.”
Herring is joined in the lawsuit by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford, both Democrats.
The lawsuit filed Thursday against the archivist of the United States comes after the National Archives and Records Administration said this week that the archivist would “take no action to certify the adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment."
The complaint states: “after generations of effort, the women of this country are entitled to their rightful place in the Constitution.”
The attorney's general argue that U.S. laws do not give the archivist the power to decide whether to certify an amendment and that states have no power to rescind prior ratifications
“Article V does not empower Congress to dictate when a state may consider – much less ratify – a proposed amendment” and “nothing in Article V suggests – much less clearly requires – that States take action on proposed constitutional amendments within any particular amount of time,” the Complaint states.
Earlier this month, the Department of Justice ruled that the deadline to ratify the ERA has expired.
“We conclude that Congress had the constitutional authority to impose a deadline on the ratification of the ERA and, because that deadline has expired, the ERA Resolution is no longer pending before the States,” the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel said in an opinion.