President of the National Organization for Women
Headline speaker at the Utah ERA Coalition’s Rally for Ratification at the Utah State Capitol Building, January 27, 2020
This amendment provides tangible benefits. The ERA would require a higher judicial standard of equal treatment for women and men. It will hold gender discrimination to a “strict scrutiny” standard when cases come before the courts, rather than the current “intermediate scrutiny” – a lower standard under the law. The 14th Amendment has been used inconsistently in some of these cases. But conservative Justice Antonin Scalia famously stated that the 14th does not cover sex discrimination. If the 14th was an equality amendment for women, the 19th Amendment would not have been necessary.
The American Bar Association with its 400,000 members supports ratification. Robert Carlson, ABA President, stated;
“The ABA has long advocated for gender equality and stands in full support of ratification of the ERA. Our policy-making body has adopted positions of support in 1972 and 1974, and most recently in 2016, when it reaffirmed the need for, and its support of, ratification of the ERA. The ERA is needed to assure that gender equality is recognized as a fundamental, irrevocable right protected by the highest law of the land.
“Ratification would have three immediate effects: First, it would establish that gender equality under the law is a fundamental and irrevocable tenet of our society. Second, it would require all judges to apply the highest standard of scrutiny when deciding cases involving sex discrimination. This means judges would use the same standard of review in sex discrimination cases that they now use in deciding cases involving discrimination based on race, religion, and national origin. Third, it would protect and reinvigorate enforcement of existing gender equity laws. We are encouraged that Nevada and Illinois [and Virginia] have recently ratified the ERA because it signals a renewed nationwide recognition of the need for the ERA and the public’s determination to transform legislators’ verbal support for equal rights into votes for ratification.” (ABA Journal)
For a local perspective, please read this opinion piece by Donna Kelly, prosecutor in the Utah Attorney General’s Office. Please also read this piece from Michelle Quist, a Republican attorney in Utah, and member of Women Lawyers of Utah, a Utah ERA Coalition partner