Illinois AG files brief with appellate court in lawsuit to get ERA recognized

Illinois Attorney General's Building in Springfield. Photo by Tom Wray
The Illinois Attorney General's building in Springfield. Photo by Tom Wray

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, along with Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, on Monday filed an opening brief with a federal appeals court in their lawsuit seeking to ensure the federal government acknowledges the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) as the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Raoul and the attorneys general filed the brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The attorneys general initiated the lawsuit in 2020, but a lower-court judge dismissed it in March 2021. In the brief, Raoul and the attorneys general argue that the lower court overlooked the role that Article V of the Constitution gives states in the amendment process, improperly discounted the actions of the Illinois, Nevada, and Virginia state legislatures in ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, and gave too much weight to seven-year deadline for ratification that Congress included in its language proposing the amendment.

“As our fight to ensure the Equal Rights Amendment is recognized as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution officially enters a new year, I am struck that Congress first considered an equal rights amendment nearly 100 years ago,” Raoul said. “One hundred years is far too long to wait for equality under the law, and I am hopeful 2022 will be the year that equal treatment for all Americans is enshrined and acknowledged as part of our nation’s Constitution.”

“The ERA has been properly ratified by the states and any attempt to prevent its inclusion in the Constitution is without basis in law,” Herring said. “The Equal Rights Amendment will finally ensure true equality in our nation’s foundational document and correct an injustice of historic proportions. For more than two centuries women have fought for recognition of the rights, privileges, and responsibilities that should be guaranteed to each of us by the Constitution. This unlawful and unexplainable obstruction must end, and the ERA must be certified, published, and made a full part of our Constitution.”

“We are grateful to the Attorneys General for driving this litigation forward. The ERA has met all the constitutional requirements for an amendment, and the Archivist has a duty to publish it, providing official notice to all 50 States that the ERA is now the Twenty-Eighth Amendment to the Constitution,” Carol Jenkins, President and CEO of the ERA Coalition said. “There can be no time limit on equality.”

Attorney General Raoul, with Attorneys General Ford and Herring, filed a lawsuit in 2020 to ensure that the Equal Rights Amendment is acknowledged as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution. Approximately 108 business groups, 95 advocacy groups and bar associations, and 19 states and the District of Columbia filed amicus briefs in the lower court supporting the lawsuit.