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-Spencer L. Simons, former Director, O'Quinn Law Library and Associate Professor of Law



Friday, March 22, 2013

Equal Rights Amendment Anniversary

On this day, in 1972, the Equal Rights Amendment was approved by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. The National Constitution Center has a very interesting blog post that talks about this proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as well as three other proposed amendments that came (relatively) close to being ratified:

  • The Titles of Nobility Amendment: Sometimes referred to as "the missing 13th Amendment", this proposed amendment, originally approved by Congress in 1810 and technically still open for ratification (ala the 27th Amendment), came the closest of any to being ratified without succeeding, at one point needing just one more state for ratification!

  • The Child Labor Amendment: This proposed amendment, approved by Congress in 1924, would have explicitly given Congress the "power to limit, regulate, and prohibit the labor of persons under eighteen years of age." The amendment was proposed in response to U.S. Supreme Court decisions that found unconstitutional some earlier attempts by Congress to deal with child labor. Technically, this proposal is still susceptible to ratification and has been ratified by 28 states. Many have argued that the enactment of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, ch. 676, 52 Stat. 1060 (codified as amended at 29 U.S.C. § 201-19 (2006)) made this amendment unnecessary. I mean, what are the chances we'll ever have a pro-business Congress and a pro-business President at the same time that would be capable of weakening (if not outright repealing) this legislative act?! Right? For an interesting discussion of this proposed amendment and its relationship to President Roosevelt's infamous court-packing plan, see Gerard N. Magliocca, "Court-Packing and the Child Labor Amendment", 27 Const. Commentary 455 (2011).

  • The District of Columbia Voting Rights Amendment:
  • This proposed amendment, approved by Congress in 1978 but subject to a seven-year deadline for state ratifications, could only muster the support of 16 states before the approval period expired. For an interesting summary and analysis of this proposed amendment, including arguments for and against ratification, see Background Paper 79-3, prepared by the Research Division of the Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau.

For additional information on the Equal Rights Amendment, inluding an overview and history of the amendment, see EqualRightsAmendment.org.

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