Jan 15, 2020

Virginia General Assembly passes Equal Rights Amendment

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The two chambers of Virginia's General Assembly approved the proposed Equal Rights Amendment with bipartisan support on Wednesday in an overwhelming win for gender equality advocates.

Why it matters: Virginia is now poised to become the crucial 38th state to approve the ERA, which would prohibit discrimination on the basis on sex. Three-quarters of all state assemblies and legislatures must approve the measure for it to be added to the U.S. Constitution, the Washington Post notes.

Yes, but: Wednesday’s votes are not for final passage, as parliamentary rules dictate that each chamber must approve the other’s version. Though the two are identical, the final show of support is considered a formality.

  • The Justice Department also issued a finding last week that the ERA expired, thus could no longer be ratified, per the Washington Post. Multiple efforts are afoot on Capitol Hill to expand or renew the ratification process.

The amendment was first proposed in 1923, passed in 1972 and given a ratification deadline of March 22, 1979.

  • The deadline was extended through June 1982, but only 35 of the 38 needed states ratified it.
  • When the proposal was deemed a failure, five states withdrew their support.
  • Three states have added their support since 2017 — now including Virginia.
  • Virginia only counts as the final state required for ratification if the five withdrawals are dismissed.

The bottom line: In principle, the landmark proposal has its necessary backers, but it remains unclear whether the measure will be added to the U.S. Constitution.

Go deeper: Trump administration argues civil rights law doesn't cover LGBTQ workers

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State attorneys general sue to demand certification of Equal Rights Amendment

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Three Democratic state attorneys general filed a lawsuit against a federal government official on Thursday to certify the Equal Rights Amendment, which would ban sex-based discrimination, into the U.S. Constitution.

The big picture: The lawsuit follows the National Archives and Records Administration's decision not to adopt the amendment, despite Virginia's General Assembly approving the ERA in mid-January, becoming the 38th state to do so. The NARA's decision is in line with a Justice Department legal opinion also issued earlier this month, arguing that Congress imposed a deadline for ratification, which expired in 1982.

Go deeperArrowJan 30, 2020

Virginia AG asks state Supreme Court not to overturn gun ban

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. Photo: H. Darr Beiser for The Washington Post via Getty Image

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring insisted on Friday that the state Supreme Court not overturn a temporary weapons ban the governor enacted for a planned gun-rights rally at the state Capitol next Monday, AP reports.

Why it matters: The FBI assisted the police on Thursday in arresting six men linked to a violent white supremacist group known as The Base, at least three of whom were thought to be planning to attend the rally in Richmond, AP writes.

Go deeperArrowJan 17, 2020

Trump tweets in support of pro-gun activists ahead of Virginia rally

President Trump. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

As Richmond braces for thousands of demonstrators on Monday, President Trump tweeted in support of pro-gun activists, saying the Second Amendment is "under very serious attack" in the state.

The state of play: Protesters are expected to pour onto state Capitol grounds in response to Virginia Democrats' sweeping gun control proposals. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency and temporarily banned weapons around the Capitol. The Virginia state Supreme Court upheld Northam's ban Friday, Reuters reports.

Go deeperArrowJan 18, 2020