Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Thursday if she could add any amendment to the U.S. Constitution it would be an Equal Rights Amendment declaring men and women are equal under the law.
The justice made her comments during a question and answer session with Georgetown University’s incoming law school class, saying some people argue the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause is enough, but she disagrees.
“I have three granddaughters. I can point to the First Amendment protecting their freedom of speech, but I can’t point to anything that explicitly says men and women are people of equal stature,” she said, holding her pocket Constitution.
She said she would like to be able to tell her grandchildren the equal stature between men and women is part of the country’s legal system, but she acknowledged the U.S. Constitution is hard to amend.
The Equal Rights Amendment had been a cause in the 1970s, when it cleared both chambers of Congress and was sent to the states for ratification. It fell short when the required three-fourths of states had not ratified it by its original 1979 deadline nor an extended 1982 deadline signed in to law by President Jimmy Carter in 1978.
Opponents of the measure, led chiefly in the 1970s by the late conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, warned the amendment would have led to women being forced to serve in the military and the loss of alimony, among other protections.
Thirty-five states had approved the ERA before the ratification deadline, leaving it three shy of the 38 needed to be added to the Constitution.
Earlier this year, House Democrats held the first hearing in more than three decades on the Equal Rights Amendment, hoping to revive the proposal.
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