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Back to ERA Information

Response to Missouri ERA Campaign 
Phyllis Schlafly sent the following letter to Missouri legislators on March 1, 2001 in response to the Feb. 19, 2001 statement issued by Missouri ERA Campaign:


"Ratification would ensure that the U.S. Constitution protects the rights of both women and men." The U.S. Constitution already protects the rights of both women and men. The Constitution is scrupulously sex-neutral and makes no difference between women's and men's rights. Women have every constitutional right that men have, including all rights spelled out in the Bill of Rights. It is not only a lie but a gross disservice to women to imply that they are not protected by the U.S. Constitution.

"Why is she [Phyllis Schlafly] fighting so hard [against ERA]?" To keep our friends in the Missouri Legislature from looking foolish.

"The U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled the ERA dead. In 1982 it simply declared a suit on rescission moot . . ." The death of ERA is what made the suit moot. If ERA hadn't been dead, the lawsuit about extension and rescission wouldn't have been moot. It was moot because ERA was dead.

"The original time limit expired in 1979, but Congress extended it until 1982. If they had the power to extend it once they can do so again." But Congress did not extend it again and no bill has ever been introduced to do that. A Member has reintroduced a new ERA in Congress in each session following the death of ERA in 1982; that would start the whole process all over again, requiring a two-thirds vote in both Houses of Congress followed by new ratifications in 38 states. This proves that Congress knows ERA is dead.

"It took 203 years for the 27th Amendment to become a part of the Constitution." But the 27th Amendment did not have any time limit. ERA always had a clearly stated time limit.

"The U.S. Supreme Court has always based its abortion decisions on the`Liberties' clause of the 14th Amendment" Exactly! That's why the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that our current U.S. Constitution (without ERA) does not require states to pay for abortions. If ERA is ever added to the Constitution, the decision would go the other way.

"State court rulings based on state ERAs have no bearing on what the U.S. Supreme Court will do." State court rulings on state ERAs that adopt the feminist theories about the relationship between ERA and abortion show precisely how feminist lawyers will argue in future cases on ERA, and how feminist judges will rule.

"Only three states that pay for medically necessary abortions do so because of the state's ERA." Three states are certainly enough to worry that Missouri courts would rule that ERA requires taxpayer funded abortions, especially after the recent Missouri Supreme Court decision that is forcing Missouri to dole out taxpayers' money to Planned Parenthood. In other state-ERA states, there was no need for a court challenge because their legislatures voted to pay for abortions.

"Eight states without a state ERA pay for medically necessary abortions." These states pay for abortions because their legislatures voted to do so, or because a court ruled on other grounds. If ERA becomes part of the Constitution, these eight states could never stop paying for abortions.

"Eight states with a state ERA do not pay for medically necessary abortions." Most of these states do not have a true "state ERA" because the wording of their constitutions is significantly different from the proposed federal ERA.

"Sex acts between consenting adults in the privacy of their own homes should not be the business of the government." This is an admission that ERA advocates would welcome this ERA mischief. In any case, the Missouri sodomy law is only used to prosecute sex acts with people who are not "consenting adults."

"No state ERA has ever been used to recognize same-sex marriages. . . The Hawaii Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages under Hawaii's equal protection clause. . ." Not true! The Hawaii supreme court made it clear that the equal protection clause, standing alone, would not have required same-sex marriage (because sex-based classifications are not subject to "strict scrutiny" under that clause). The court cited U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell's statement that "The Equal Rights Amendment .... if adopted will resolve the substance of this precise question." The Hawaii court then said: "In light of ... the presence of ... the Equal Rights Amendment in the Hawaii Constitution ... we hold ... that [Hawaii's marriage law] is presumed to be unconstitutional."

The Hawaii decision on same-sex marriage was overturned by the people in a 1998 referendum, but its legal analysis remains valid. The same reasoning was used by the December 7, 2000 Texas court decision that required the state to pay for abortions: "The ERA elevates sex -- along with race, color, creed, and national origin -- to a suspect classification, and any law that classifies persons for different treatment on the basis of sex is subject to strict judicial scrutiny."

"Washington's supreme court ruled that its ERA did not apply to same-sex marriages." Back in 1974, a Washington court of appeals decision (not reviewed by the state supreme court) said that Washington's state ERA did not require recognition of same-sex marriages. But no other court or legal authority has agreed with that analysis, and in 1993 the Hawaii supreme court said contemptuously about the Washington case, "We reject this exercise in tortured and conclusory sophistry."

"Vermont, which has no state ERA, recognizes domestic partnerships under the 'common benefits' clause of its constitution." The only reason Vermont did not legalize same-sex marriage (and had to use the half-way measure called "civil unions" under an old section of the Vermont constitution) is that, fortunately, the people of Vermont defeated ERA on a referendum in 1986.

The activist groups promoting ERA are the same ones promoting taxpayer funded abortions and same-sex marriages. There is no way they can de-link these issues. The evidence is overwhelming.

I urge you to defeat all attempts to revive ERA. It's a bad deal for our state, for life, for families, and for women.

Faithfully,


Phyllis Schlafly


 
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