Brief filed in support of ERA
News from the Office of the Governor
MONTANA – Governor Steve Bullock filed an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking to adopt the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution. In the brief, Bullock highlights Montana’s unique history of advancing equality and Montana’s interest in recognition of the ERA.
“Montana’s history on the vanguard of sex equality is something significant — and Montana is proud of it — but it is not nearly enough. Now that the requisite number of States have ratified the ERA, the next step is its formal inclusion in the United States Constitution. The discrete legal question before the court is a justiciable one. On its resolution hangs the meaning and force of decades of history fighting for equality, in Montana and across the United States,” wrote Bullock in the brief.
In the brief, Bullock salutes the crucial work of women in Montana, including Dolly Akers, an Assiniboine woman who was the first Native American elected to the Montana State Legislature; Geraldine Travis, the first black woman elected to the Montana State Legislature; and Jeanette Rankin, the first woman to serve in Congress. He also cites Montana’s longtime role as a leader in gender equality – Montana, along with Michigan, passed the first state Equal Pay Acts in 1919.
“Montana’s history of supporting and celebrating equality includes, among other things, electing the first woman to Congress in 1916 — four years before women across the country were permitted to vote — and including in its pre-ERA state constitution a prohibition against sex discrimination. Montana and its citizens have a vested interest in ensuring that Montanans be protected from sex discrimination whether at home or visiting throughout the country,” Bullock also wrote.
Thirty-eight of the 50 states have ratified the ERA since it passed the U.S. Senate in 1972, fulfilling the United States Constitution’s requirement for three-fourths of the states to ratify a new amendment, though five states have rescinded their ratification. The Attorneys General of Virginia, Illinois and Nevada are suing the Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero, to compel him to “carry out his statutory duty of recognizing the complete and final adoption” of the ERA. They also argue that states may not rescind their ratification of a federal constitutional amendment.