A Liberal Case Against the Equal Rights Amendment
UVA Law Faculty Affiliations
Virginia's vote to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which aims to end legal distinctions between men and women, is being celebrated by many as a milestone. But as a constitutional law scholar and a liberal supporter of women's equality, I hope the ERA is ultimately defeated.
The ERA is unnecessary, useless and harmful to women's equality. It is unnecessary because the ERA would only prohibit sex discrimination by the government, which the Constitution already prohibits against women. It is inconceivable that the U.S. Supreme Court would return to its pre-1970s view that the Constitution does not protect women from government discrimination, just as it is unimaginable that the Court would again interpret the Constitution to permit "separate but equal" racial segregation.
The ERA is useless for many reforms that its supporters seek. Because the ERA doesn't apply to the private sector or in American homes, it would not prevent violence against women, unequal pay or sexual harassment in the workplace, to name a few systemic problems.