On Dec. 18, 2019, Alabama, Louisiana, and South Dakota filed a federal lawsuit seeking to prevent the archivist of the United States from accepting states’ ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, which would ban discrimination based on sex. In a press release Friday, the anti-feminist group Phyllis Schlafly Eagles welcomed the lawsuit and shared their fruitless campaign to target the U.S. archivist.
The ERA, which was first passed by Congress in 1972, needs 38 states to ratify it into the Constitution. With Democrats gaining control of Virginia’s state legislature in the November 2019 election, Virginia is poised to become the 38th state to ratify the ERA, and conservatives are up in arms.
In the lawsuit, the Republican attorney generals point to a 1982 deadline Congress had set for states to ratify the amendment and claim that any new ratifications are moot. Supporters of the ERA say the time limit on ERA ratification is open to change, as Congress has extended the deadlines before.
Phyllis Schlafly Eagles claimed in the press release that the lawsuit “comes on the heels of a year-long investigation … to root out pro-ERA bias in the National Archives and Records Administration.” The year-long investigation appears to be a series of FOIA requests the group filed based on a seemingly insignificant tweet that U.S. archivist David Ferriero had announced Nevada’s ratification of the amendment in 2017. Phyllis Schlafly Eagles president Ed Martin then slammed Ferriero as “drenched in the Swamp.”
“Archivist David Ferriero may claim impartiality on ERA ratification, but that’s not even remotely true. This unelected bureaucrat is drenched in the Swamp, and that shouldn’t come as a surprise,” Martin said. “When we got word that Ferriero was bragging on Nevada’s alleged ‘ratification’ of ERA, we immediately filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get to the bottom of things.”
“Instead of satisfying our straightforward request for documents related to the validity of the Illinois and Nevada ratifications, the National Archives sent Phyllis Schlafly Eagles a string of irrelevant responses, denials, and rejections over the course of many months,” Martin continued. “Our diligent staff chased down every possible angle, but it appears only a lawsuit from these attorneys general will bring the whole truth to light.”
“These brave Attorneys General of Alabama, Louisiana, and South Dakota can rest assured knowing they have the full support of Phyllis Schlafly Eagles. Together, we will get to the bottom of pro-ERA trickery at the office of National Archivist David Ferriero.”
Conservative groups have long railed against the amendment, and Phyllis Schlafly was key to orchestrating efforts to stop the legislation from advancing in the 1970s and 1980s. In March, Phyllis Schlafly Eagles called the ERA “another Marxist plot against one of America’s greatest strengths – the family.” In November, shortly after Virginia flipped blue, Phyllis Schlafly Eagles claimed that the ERA was not about women’s rights.
“What the ERA would do in reality is solidify abortion-on-demand as a taxpayer-paid constitutional right, give men a constitutional right to be in women’s restrooms and locker rooms, strip churches of religious liberty protections, and eliminate sex-specific aid programs like WIC and government funding of battered women’s shelters,” the organization claimed in a press release.