Constitutional Crisis Hotline, Episode 12: The Equal Rights Amendment

Episode 12: Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s Equal Rights Amendment Returns to Congress.

Is the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) dead or alive? The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing at the end of February to consider a resolution that would recognize some state ratifications of the ERA that were completed decades after Congress’s deadline. Originally proposed in 1923 and adopted by Congress in 1972, the ERA would add a sex equality guarantee to the U.S. Constitution. Does Congress have constitutional power to remove the ratification deadline? What should it do about the states that tried to rescind their ratifications? And what difference does the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs make to the future of women’s constitutional rights?

Kathleen Sullivan testified at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the ERA on February 28, 2023, in addition to the House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on the same subject in 2019.  Sullivan is the former dean and professor of law at Stanford Law School, and currently senior counsel at Quinn Emanuel. She is the co-author of a leading constitutional law textbook and dozens of law review articles including, most relevant to this episode, “Constitutional Constancy: Why Congress Should Cure Itself of Amendment Fever” (1996) and “Constitutionalizing Women’s Equality” (2022).

Jesse Wegman authored an op-ed in the New York Times,, “Why Can’t We Make Women’s Equality the Law of the Land?” (2022). Wegman is a member of the New York Times editorial board, and teaches courses at NYU School of Law. He has written on a range of legal and political issues for the New York Times.  He is the author of a 2020 book, Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College.


Author: Jed Shugerman

Jed Handelsman Shugerman is a Professor at Fordham Law School. He received his B.A., J.D., and Ph.D. (History) from Yale. His book, The People’s Courts (Harvard 2012), traces the rise of judicial elections, judicial review, and the influence of money and parties in American courts. It is based on his dissertation that won the 2009 ASLH’s Cromwell Prize. He is co-author of amicus briefs on the history of presidential power, the Emoluments Clauses, the Appointments Clause, the First Amendment rights of elected judges, and the due process problems of elected judges in death penalty cases. He is currently working on two books on the history of executive power and prosecution in America. The first is tentatively titled “A Faithful President: The Founders v. the Unitary Executive,” questioning the textual and historical evidence for the theory of unchecked and unbalanced presidential power. This book draws on his articles “Vesting” (Stanford Law Review forthcoming 2022), “Removal of Context” (Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities 2022), a co-authored “Faithful Execution and Article II” (Harvard Law Review 2019 with Andrew Kent and Ethan Leib), “The Indecisions of 1789” (forthcoming Penn. Law Review), and “The Creation of the Department of Justice,” (Stanford Law Review 2014). The second book project is “The Rise of the Prosecutor Politicians: Race, War, and Mass Incarceration,” focusing on California Governor Earl Warren, his presidential running mate Thomas Dewey, the Kennedys, World War II and the Cold War, the war on crime, the growth of prosecutorial power, and its emergence as a stepping stone to electoral power for ambitious politicians in the mid-twentieth century.

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