Our Amicus Brief
We filed an amicus brief in favor of the plaintiff in the Commonwealth of Virginia, State of Illinois, and State of Nevada, V. David S. Ferriero, in his official capacity as Archivist of the United States. Read it here.
What is the Commonwealth of Virginia, State of Illinois, and State of Nevada, V. David S. Ferriero all about? The Attorneys Generals of the states that are in the title of the case are suing the National Archivist to force him to recognize Virginia’s ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and certify the measure as part of the Constitution. The ERA has fulfilled all requirements of Article V of the Constitution to be enshrined in the Constitution, which include being passed by 2/3 of Congress and 3/4 of the states. However, the National Archivist, David S. Ferriero, is blocking its ratification on the basis that its non-binding deadline has already passed. Blocking the ERA from being added to our Constitution is a desperate attempt of Trump's Department of Justice to keep women and people beyond the binary out of the Constitution. And the young people are not going to let it stand.
So, we filed an amicus brief. Amicus briefs are legal documents that are filed in court cases by outside parties with a strong interest in the subject matter. These briefs advise the court of relevant, additional information or arguments that the court might wish to consider.
Generation Ratify believes that in the fight for the ERA, a fight that has been going on for nearly a century, it is critical to amplify youth voices. So we are doing something that has never really been accessible to young people, we are bringing our fight to the courts. Our ideas, concerns, and focus on inclusion and intersectionality is critical to fighting for an ERA that works for everyone. By filing this brief, we want to elevate the conversation, focus on the communities that need the amendment the most, and empower young people to carry this fight forward. We do this through focusing on the inequities that are seen in education and access to opportunities for young people as a result of their gender.
We did this in collaboration with Convington and Burling, and want to give them a huge thank you for their help, especially to Lauren Moxley and our Adult Advisor, Kate Kelly.
The amicus brief broken down. Our brief has 2 broad categories that we want to make clear to the court: Young Advocates Have Long Played a Central Role in Supporting Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment as Persons Whose Rights Will Be Directly Advanced by Its Addition to the Constitution; The Equal Rights Amendment Has the Potential to Advance Broader Rights of Gender Equality for Young People. Here they are broken down accompanied by illustrations from our Creative team.
Young People Have Played a Critical Role in the Movement to Draft and Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Generation Ratify follows in the tradition of the young women in past generations who have led the movement for the Equal Rights Amendment since its inception. The initial movement for the Equal Rights Amendment took place as an outgrowth of the fight for women’s suffrage in the 1910s and 1920s. The movement included prominent young advocates, such as Mabel Ping-Hua Lee, a 16-year-old leader of New York’s suffrage movement who led a parade of New York City suffragists in 1912. The architect of the Equal Rights Amendment, Alice Paul, first joined the suffrage movement while studying in England at age twenty-two. Paul founded the National Women’s Party upon her return to the United States, and later organized the first protest in front of the White House in support of women’s suffrage.
The Young and Diverse Coalition Supporting Ratification of the Equal
Rights Amendment Will Benefit the Most From Adding the Amendment to the Constitution. Young people will benefit directly by addition of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution and thus have particular interest in the Court granting relief to the Plaintiff States. The coalition of people supporting ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment today is young and diverse. Young people working in coalitions of people of different genders, gender identities, sexual orientations, religious backgrounds, racial backgrounds, and ethnic
backgrounds played a critical role in supporting the efforts in the final three states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
The Equal Rights Amendment Will Further Equal Opportunity in
Education. Women have been concerned about equality in American education since before our country’s founding. Prominent women at the Revolutionary War period, like Abigail Adams, advocated for the equal education of girls, saying: “I regret the trifling narrow contracted education of the Females of my own country.” Eliminating discrimination on the basis of sex in education was also a major focus of congressional debate on the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1971, Representative Bella Abzug of New York explained that sex discrimination is an important issue it is “so pervasive in our every level of educational system, and because it shapes the aspirations of young girls when their personalities and expectations are most malleable.” Representative Abzug’s concern still rings true today, when access by girls and LGBTQIA+ youth to a meaningful education remains hindered, including by sexual harassment and sexual assault, archaic gender-based stereotypes, and even the inability to access necessary menstrual hygiene products. The ERA will work to combat these inequities.
The Equal Rights Amendment Will Further Economic Equality. The persistence of the pay gap is evidence of the need for overlapping protections to prevent inequality on the basis of sex, as nowhere is the intersectional nature of compounding inequalities more cleanly demonstrated than with the gender pay gap. Today, Black women are paid on average 62 cents for every dollar paid to every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men; Native American women are paid 57 cents to the dollar; and Latina women are paid 54 cents to the dollar. For this reason, Virginia Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy stated that she believes the Equal Rights Amendment has a far-reaching impact on women of color and other groups due to inequality in pay, and that “adding the amendment to the Constitution would be the anchor when it comes to passing equal pay legislation.” The Equal Rights Amendment’s protections have long been championed by diverse advocates in federal and state legislatures—such as Patsy Takemoto Mink, Henrietta Johnson, Patricia Saiki, Barbara Jordan and many others—who understood that “[d]iscrimination against women in our country is compounded by the decadence of racism,” and that the Amendment provides a vital opportunity to uplift women of color.
Transgender and LGBTQIA+ individuals are also paid less than their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts. Earnings for male-to-female transgender workers can fall by nearly one-third after their gender transitions. Similarly, “[w]omen in same-sex couples lacking a college degree and those with a disability are at increased likelihood of living in poverty compared to similar women in married opposite-sex couples and compared to men,” and women ages 65 and above “in same-sex couples have nearly twice the poverty rate of older married opposite-sex couples.” These pay gaps are particularly pronounced for non-white same-sex couples. As transgender legislator and Equal Rights Amendment advocate Danica Roem said, “[t]he word ‘women’ is conspicuously absent from the ERA, which instead forbids discrimination on the basis of ‘sex.’ . . . It holds ample potential to protect all marginalized genders—binary and non-binary alike—and sexual minorities.”
Young people want to build a better future for themselves, one in which they will not be unfairly disadvantaged by decreasing returns for their labor based on their gender or gender-presentation.
Sign-ons. The fight to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment is a fight that needs to include all voices. It is a fight that will impact everyone in this country and we need to ensure all communities' are included in this conversation. So, we reached out to organizations that advocate for the intersections of gender equity high-lighted in our brief. Here are the organizations that signed on their support.
Generation Ratify was one group among many that filed briefs. Check other organizations out here:
Brief of Businesses and Corporate Entities
The United States Conference of Mayors; Equal Means ERAl 38 Agree for Georgia; LARatifyERA
Organizations that Advocated ERA Ratification in Virginia, Illinois, and Nevada
Constitutional Law Professors