Equal Rights Amendments

As the leader of the National Woman's Party, Alice Paul focused on winning women's suffrage at the national level (as opposed to the state-by-state approach of the National American Woman's Suffrage Association). Once the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified, she followed a similar approach to women's rights beyond the vote. In 1923, at the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention, she proposed an equal rights amendment to the Constitution. Although Paul and her supporters proposed the amendment at every session of Congress through the 1940s, Congress never passed it. In 1943, Paul proposed a new version, which conformed more closely to the wording of the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments. She and her supporters continued to bring the amendment to Congress through the 1970s.

Finally, in 1972, Congress revised the wording and passed what we now know as the "Equal Rights Amendment," or ERA. Support for the ERA faltered in the 1970s. Not enough states had ratified the amendment by the initial deadline, and so Congress extended the deadline to 1982, but no additional states ratified it during the extended period. Consequently, the U.S. Constitution includes no Equal Rights Amendment.

Equal Rights Amendment

(passed by Congress in 1972 but not ratified)

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.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

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