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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Illinois Joins Suit Over ERA

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, along with attorneys general of Virginia and Nevada, filed a lawsuit to get the Equal Rights Amendment certified.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, along with attorneys general of Virginia and Nevada, filed a lawsuit to get the Equal Rights Amendment certified.

Illinois today joined Virginia and Nevada, in filing a federal lawsuit to get the Equal Rights Amendment on the books now that it’s been ratified by enough states.

Virginia on Monday became the 38th state to ratify the ERA, but President Trump’s administration is trying to block it from being added to the Constitution.

The attorneys general of the last three states to ratify – including Illinois in 2018 – said the ERA should be considered the law of the land — despite a Congressional deadline for ratification that expired in 1982 and efforts by several states to rescind ratification.

“The Equal Rights Amendment is not at all radical. Americans have long agreed that discrimination based on sex is unacceptable. But by enshrining that shared value in our Constitution, we have made a commitment to never go back,’’ Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said.

Raoul  says the Constitution ensures that contemporary stumbling blocks — like the deadline for ratification Congress set in the 1970s — should not stop enactment. He was speaking at a press conference in Washington, D.C. following the filing of the suit.

“Today we witness the power of our Constitution to evolve, to become more inclusive,’’ he said. “Today we celebrate that the Equal Rights Amendment has become part of our Constitution.”

The lawsuit calls for national archivist David Ferriero  to certify the ERA is in fact the 28th Amendment.

He has declined to do that so far, citing a Trump administration legal ruling — that Congress had the authority to impose a deadline for ratification.

In a press release, tte archivist cited January 6 presidential legal office opinion, which states “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.”

According to a press release, the archivist will abide by that  opinion, "unless otherwise directed by a final court order “

The ratification was the result of advocates working across the country, Raoul said. “Because of this multi-generational effort, our Constitution now expressly protects Americans from discrimination based upon sex.”

Raoul choked up as he spoke of his daughter, Mizan, who is a University of Missouri student.

“I stand here proud of my daughter, a 19-year-old college sophomore who aspires to go to law school and she will one day be sworn into the bar and promise to support a Constitution that will equally support her.”        

Copyright 2020 NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is the NPR Illinois News Editor and a lead editor of Illinois Issues' feature articles, working with freelance writers, and is curator of the Equity blog. Maureen joined the staff in 1998 as projects editor. Previously, she worked at three Illinois daily newspapers, most recently the suburban Chicago-based Daily Herald, where she served stints as an education reporter and copy editor. She graduated in 1985 with a bachelor's in journalism. She also has a master's degree in English from the University of Illinois at Springfield.