Virginia, Illinois and Nevada—the last three states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)—sued US archivist David Ferriero in the US District Court for the District of Columbia on Thursday in a bid to force the addition of the ERA to the US Constitution.
The House first passed an equal rights amendment in 1970. The amendment was considered on the Senate floor in the fall of 1970, but the Senate adjourned without voting on it and did not bring it to the floor in the following session. In 1971, Representative Griffiths introduced HJ Res 208, which would ultimately become the Equal Rights Amendment. Both the house and the senate approved HJ Res 208, and by 1972, 22 states had ratified.
Nevada ratified the ERA in 2017, Illinois ratified it in 2018 and Virginia just ratified it in 2020. Virginia became the thirty-eighth state to ratify the ERA, which satisfied Article V’s requirement of ratification by “three fourths” of all states. Because of this, the three states are asking for the court to direct the archivist to publish the amendment. They are also seeking the declaration that the ERA has become the twenty-eighth amendment to the US Constitution.
Whenever the National Archives and Records Administration receives official word that an amendment has been adopted, the archivist is supposed to publish that amendment, specifying which states have adopted it and stating that it is valid. However, the archivist has not published nor certified the ERA, and the National Archives and Records Administration announced that the archivist will refuse to do so “unless otherwise directed by a final court order.”