Written Testimony from the Zonta USA Caucus
Submitted by Bobbee Cardillo, Convener
For the Record to Senate Committee on the Judiciary for the Hearing on
“The Equal Rights Amendment: How Congress Can Recognize Ratification and Enshrine Equality in Our Constitution”
February 28, 2023
Chairman Durbin, Ranking Member Graham and members of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary:
The Zonta USA Caucus represents more than 8,000 members of Zonta International who live in the United States. Zonta is a non-partisan, non-sectarian global organization of professionals, with a mission to empower women and girls through service and advocacy. Founded in 1919 in Buffalo NY, Zonta has always believed that women should have equal rights with men. We have supported those rights being enshrined in the US Constitution since the Equal Rights Amendment was first proposed in Congress in 1923. There are now more women living in the rest of the world with gender equality guaranteed in their national constitutions—yet here in the United States, more than 100 years later, we continue to battle for women’s legal rights!
In that regard, we wish to commend the Senate Judiciary Committee for holding this vital hearing on SJ Res 4 which, if adopted, will formally recognize that the ERA is valid as the 28th Amendment of the US Constitution. This resolution recognizes the fact that all requirements for amendment, outlined in Article V of the Constitution regarding ratification, have already been met.
The ERA has had a long road to reach ratification. Introduced in Congress in 1923, it was written as a follow up to the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote in 1920.
While the amendment was introduced in Congress every year since 1923, it did not succeed until 1972, when both houses of Congress passed it with bipartisan support and it was sent to the states for ratification. Thirty-eight states were needed to achieve ratification.
While this did not occur before the artificial deadline set by Congress, it was finally achieved when Virginia became the 38th state to ratify in 2020. As the deadline is not part of the official Amendment voted on by the states, and deadlines are not enumerated in Article 5, the deadline should not dictate the timeline for ratifying the amendment. Accordingly, the Equal Rights Amendment met the constitutional requirements related to ratification on January 27, 2020.
Passing SJ Res 4 is critical in order to assure the American people and the Biden Administration that Congress acknowledges that ratification of the ERA has occurred. Enactment of the ERA will help the courts in their interpretation of all laws affecting women’s equality going forward and benefit women in the US, who make up over 50% of the population, by finally making women’s rights equal to those of men under the law.
Passage of SJ Res 4 and acknowledgement of the Equal Rights Amendment is important to the Zonta USA Caucus as a demonstration of the commitment of the USA to gender equality. After being founded in the USA to advance the status of women, Zonta International has grown to advance the ideals of equality and equal opportunity in 63 other countries around the globe. It is critically important that the core of those ideals, equal rights under the law, be enshrined in the US Constitution as it has been in the constitutions of so many other nations. The USA should be the shining example of gender equality we were always meant to be.
Passing SJ Res 4 is a must! We respectfully request your immediate action to pass SJ Res 4.