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The US Equal Rights Amendment was blocked again a century after its introduction

The US Equal Rights Amendment was blocked again a century after its introduction

A century after a guarantee of gender equality was proposed in Congress, the US Senate on Thursday failed to secure the necessary votes to enshrine equal rights for women in the Constitution.

With a vote of 51 to 47 in favor, Democrats and Senate supporters received nine of the 60 votes needed for a resolution to lift the ban in the 100-member House.

The resolution would have removed the 1982 deadline for state ratification that prevented the Equal Rights Amendment from taking effect. Three states — Nevada, Illinois and Virginia — passed the resolution after 1982.

Chuck Schumer, the Senate’s top Democrat, said the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) has become more important since the Supreme Court struck down a national right to abortion last year.

“To the horror of hundreds of millions of Americans, women in America have far fewer rights today than they did a year ago,” Schumer said ahead of Thursday’s vote.

Anti-abortion groups have argued that the ERA could provide a way to make abortion a constitutional right, and that the amendment’s failure would increase the focus on women’s rights in the 2024 campaign for the White House.

Thursday’s resolution would need the support of nine Republicans in the Senate, where Democrats hold a narrow 51-49 majority. Only two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, voted with Democrats.

ERA was proposed in 1923, but not passed in Congress until 1972. Under US law, amendments to the Constitution must be approved by three-quarters, or 38 of the 50 state legislatures, and do not require presidential assent.

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A US district court ruled in 2021 that the approvals “came too late to count” after the deadline. In February, a federal appeals court rejected Illinois and Nevada’s requests that the ERA be adopted.

The Trump administration has argued for a resumption of the approval era. The Biden administration has not formally reversed that position, but it expressed support for the resolution on Thursday.

The White House said, “It is long past time to explicitly enshrine the principle of gender equality in the Constitution.”

Supporters of the amendment say it will ensure equal pay for women and guarantee their rights in legal matters, while opponents of the proposal argue that it could force women to leave if it is re-enacted.

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