SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul joined two other attorneys general in a lawsuit to recognize the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) as the 28th Amendment.
Virginia ratified the ERA this month, meaning three-fourths of the states have ratified it and making it an active amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring are the other parties to the lawsuit. The ERA guarantees equal rights for all Americans regardless of their sex.
“Equal rights are not contingent upon a person’s gender or sex, which is why I was proud to vote in support of the Equal Rights Amendment as an Illinois state senator, and I am committed to continuing to fight for the ERA to be recognized as the 28th Amendment,” Raoul said in a statement from the attorney general’s office. “It is past time that we ensure women across the country have the constitutional equality to which they are entitled, and I look forward to my daughter — who aspires to study law — being able to one day, when sworn into the bar, take an oath to promise to support a constitution that recognizes her right to equality under the law.”
“I am so proud that Virginia was the 38th and final state needed to ratify the ERA, finally pushing us over the edge and enshrining gender equality in our nation’s founding document. For too long, women have not been afforded the same protections as men under the Constitution,” Herring said.
In the complaint, Raoul and the attorneys general explain that under the text of the Constitution, an amendment approved by Congress automatically becomes a valid part of the Constitution as soon as it is ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states. The complaint further asserts that the U.S. Archivist does not have any discretionary authority over which amendments are added to the Constitution. As a result, the Archivist is legally obligated to recognize that the ERA has become part of the Constitution. Raoul and the attorneys general are asking the court to order the Archivist to do his duty and certify that the ERA, as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.