NARA Press Statement on the Equal Rights Amendment
Press Release · Wednesday, January 8, 2020
At the request of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued an opinion on the Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and the statutory role of the Archivist of the United States.
Under 1 U.S.C. § 106b, the Archivist performs a ministerial role with respect to certifying the ratification of amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as follows:
Whenever official notice is received at the National Archives and Records Administration that any amendment proposed to the Constitution of the United States has been adopted, according to the provisions of the Constitution, the Archivist of the United States shall forthwith cause the amendment to be published, with his certificate, specifying the States by which the same may have been adopted, and that the same has become valid, to all intents and purposes, as a part of the Constitution of the United States.
In its January 6, 2020, opinion, the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) has concluded “that Congress had the constitutional authority to impose a deadline on the ratification of the ERA and, because that deadline has expired, the ERA Resolution is no longer pending before the States.” (OLC Opinion, at p.2.) Accordingly, the OLC opinion goes on to state that “the ERA’s adoption could not be certified under 1 U.S.C. § 106b.” (OLC Opinion, at p.37.)
These issues are currently presented in two federal lawsuits against the Archivist of the United States, one filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama by the states of Alabama, Louisiana, and South Dakota and the other filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts by Equal Means Equal, The Yellow Roses, and Katherine Weitbrecht.
NARA defers to DOJ on this issue and will abide by the OLC opinion, unless otherwise directed by a final court order.
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This page was last reviewed on January 8, 2020.
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