57 Tex. L. Rev. 919 (1978-1979)
Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment: A Question of Time

handle is hein.journals/tlr57 and id is 953 raw text is: Observations
Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment:
A Question of Time
Ruth Bader Ginsburg*
March 22, 1979 marked the expiration of the time limitation Con-
gress initially provided for ratification of the Equal Rights Amend-
ment1 (ERA). In October 1978 Congress added three years and three
months to the ratification period.2 The resolution extending the ERA
deadline is unlike any other in our nation's history.3 A              host of ques-
*  Professor of Law, Columbia University. B.A. 1954, Cornell University; LL.B. 1959, Co-
lumbia University.
This Observation is the text of the twelfth annual Will E. Orgain Lecture, substantially as
delivered at the University of Texas School of Law on March 22, 1979.
1. H.R.J. Res. 208, 92d Cong., 2d Sess., 86 Stat. 1523 (1972). The time limitation appears in
the proposing clause preceding the amendment text. In its entirety, the joint resolution reads:
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States ofAmerica
in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following
article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall
be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the
legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its
submission by the Congress:
Article-
Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the
United States or by any State on account of sex.
Sec. 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation,
the provisions of this article.
Sec. 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.
(Emphasis in original).
2. H.RJ. Res. 638, 95th Cong., 1st Sess. (1978), approved by the House of Representatives
August 15, 1978, 124 CONG. Rac. H8664-65 (daily ed. Aug. 15, 1978), and by the Senate October
6, 1978, 124 CONG. REC. S17318-19 (daily ed. Oct. 6, 1978), reads:
Resolved by the Senate and House ofRepresentatives of the United States ofAmerica
in Congress assembled, That notwithstanding any provision of House Joint Resolution
208 of the Ninety-second Congress, second session, to the contrary, the article of amend-
ment proposed to the States in such joint resolution shall be valid to all intents and
purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of
the several States not later than June 30, 1982.
(Emphasis in original). The House Committee on the Judiciary had reduced the initially pro-
posed seven-year extension to approximately three years and three months to avoid straining the
requirement of a contemporaneous consensus. See HOUSE COMM. ON THE JUDICIARY, PROPOSED
EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT EXTENSION, H.R. REP. No. 1405, 95th Cong., 2d Sess. 1 (1978)
[hereinafter cited as H.R. REP. No. 1405].
3. In debate, Senator Baker expressed the view widely shared by proponents and opponents
of the resolution. I can think of few, if any, issues considered by the Senate in the last 12 years

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