CIVIL RIGHTS

GOP STILL HAS PROBLEMS WITH THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT: A House Judiciary subcommittee Tuesday held the first congressional hearing in 36 years on the Equal Rights Amendment. Republican lawmakers flagged two potential obstacles to reviving the constitutional amendment: abortion and gender identity.

“The people’s right to protect the unborn would be eliminated if the ERA were to pass,” said Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties. Laws that bar federal funds from being spent on abortions (except in limited cases) would be rendered unconstitutional, Johnson argued, because that would be considered a type of discrimination based on sex. But Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) replied that “the ERA has absolutely nothing to do with abortion, it has to do with equality of rights, most of which [are] economic, and respect.” To bring abortion into the discussion, she said, “is just divisive and a tool to try and defeat it. So please don’t ever say that again.”

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said he couldn’t support the ERA because he “heard at this hearing that sex and the Equal Rights Amendment includes gender identity, which we know absolutely is not an immutable difference.” Watch a recap of Gohmert’s comments here.

Congress passed the ERA in 1972, clearing the necessary two-thirds majority (354-24 in the House, 84-8 in the Senate). But only 35 of the necessary 38 states ratified the amendment by its 1982 deadline. In the current session, Democrats have introduced bills in both chambers that would restart the ratification process or, alternatively, revoke the 1982 deadline.