ERA Project Media Mentions
Media Mentions & Publications by the ERA Project Team
Katherine Franke, The Hill
While it may seem counterintuitive, holding and losing the vote to lift the filibuster on the ERA may be just what we need to push it over the finish line.
A majority vote of the Senate in favor of lifting the deadline would be what some legal scholars call “a constitutional moment” — the moment that marks a tipping point when a popular majority recognizes that the Constitution has been amended. History teaches us that it is only in retrospect that we realize that the U.S. Constitution has been amended.
ERA Project, Women's eNews
The Equal Rights Amendment (“ERA”), which would add an explicit guarantee of sex equality to the United States Constitution, would protect the right to abortion and the full range of reproductive healthcare and is more critically needed now than ever before.
There are several ways to understand how restrictions on access to abortion (and other reproductive health care such as contraception) amount to sex discrimination.
Read our ERA and Abortion Talking Points to learn more.
Rachel Leventhal, Women's eNews
According to Julie Suk, Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law in New York City, expert on gender equality and constitutions, author of We the Women: The Unstoppable Mothers of the Equal Rights Amendment, and member of the Academic Advisory Council for the ERA Project at Columbia Law School, we need to think of the ERA, “not just as constitutional text, but as the trans-generational movements of women to empower themselves, and to seek recognition of their empowerment.” A movement that begins “even before the Civil War, culminating in the 19th Amendment.”
Similar to the battle for the ERA, which is now on its hundredth year, changing the Constitution to allow women to vote, took a full 70 years. And for the same reasons. “If you don’t have power, it’s hard to get power, when the people who decide who has power don’t include women,” says Professor Suk.
Kate Kelly, The Advocate
As this policy brief by Columbia Law School’s ERA Project explains, “The ERA and the Equality Act are mutually reinforcing pillars of equality.”
In fact, trans women like Virginia Delegate Danica Roem, the first out and seated transgender state legislator in U.S. history, have been at the forefront of fighting for the modern ERA, which is succinctly articulated in the policy brief by Columbia Law School's ERA Project:
The premise of the trans-exclusive argument assumes that a kind of stability of identity is required to justify protection from anti-discrimination laws. In fact, the law prohibits religion, marital status, and citizenship-based discrimination even though one can change one’s religion, marital status, or citizenship. Immutability of identity has never been a sine qua non for eligibility for equality protections. The fact that trans people claim an authentic gender identity that may be different from their sex declared at birth does not in any way undermine the legitimacy of their claims to discrimination, nor does it implicate the legitimacy or authority of the law to address discrimination claims raised by cisgender women.
Elizabeth Blair, NPR, All Things Considered
Reporting on the fight against ratification in 1979, NPR's Cokie Roberts explained, "[Phyllis Shlafly and other ERA opponents] worry about losing financial support, women in combat, co-ed bathrooms, homosexual marriage, and a host of other weird and threatening changes in the society."
Today, most of those "weird" changes are legal, says Ting Ting Cheng, director of the ERA Project at Columbia Law School's Center for Gender and Sexuality Law. "Women in the military, gender neutral bathrooms, marriage equality, all of those things that [Schlafly] said would happen in order to instill fear in people to oppose the ERA did come to pass even without an ERA, and this country, I think, is better for it," said Cheng.
Brian Pascus, Crain's
“You’d have to look at employment practices and how it will require businesses to get in line with anti-discriminatory laws and clean up their practices that otherwise would violate the state Equal Rights Amendment,” said Ting Ting Cheng, director of the Equal Rights Amendment Project at Columbia Law School. “This law will raise the bar.”
Jess Bravin, Wall Street Journal
Katherine Franke, who directs the ERA Project at Columbia Law School, said the lawsuit against the archivist, even if successful, would do little to settle the status of the amendment.
“It doesn’t solve the looming hard questions of the timeline and the states that have voted to rescind their earlier ratifications,” Prof. Franke said. The Constitution assigns the ratification process not to the executive branch but to Congress and the states, she said, so when it comes to the ERA’s future, “the ball is really in Congress’s court.”
Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN
The ERA is necessary, because the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause has "not been sufficient" in being protective of the rights of women and others, said Columbia Law professor Katherine Franke, who is the faculty director of the ERA Project, the school's policy think tank on the ERA.
Since the ERA would be freestanding, "it's not tied in any way to the status quo version of equality, and in that sense, it should cover forms of discrimination that may be unintentional but quite potent," Franke told CNN.
Franke told CNN that the ERA provides a "very different approach to equality" than the one we have today, so the amendment would accommodate these programs that the Eagle Forum is worried about, and ending those programs could be a form of sex discrimination.
The ERA, according to Franke, would allow for "affirmative measures to dismantle existing forms of sex equality."
Kathryn Rubino, Above the Law
In this episode, Kathryn Rubino speaks with Ting Ting Cheng, Director of the ERA Project, and Kati Hornung, Director of VoteEqualityUS, about the current status of the Equal Rights Amendment and why the amendment is so vital in 2022. Ting Ting and Kati discuss their varying perspectives and skill sets when tackling the ERA, and what they say to people who think gender equality is a passé issue or something that’s already been achieved. They also discuss the motivations behind the new and improved pocket Constitutions, and what things they believe would be different in this country if the ERA were part of the Constitution. Ting Ting and Kati also speak about the litigation strategy for the ERA and the best ways for others to get involved.
The National Herald
On October 21, 2021, Chairwoman Maloney sent a letter to President Biden and Vice President Harris sharing a legal analysis from constitutional scholars affiliated with Columbia Law School’s ERA Project, concluding that the Trump Administration’s OLC opinion is legally unsound and should be withdrawn. The analysis found that the OLC opinion “sought to advance a policy preference against the ERA,” and is “lacking a thoroughly reasoned understanding of precedent and Congressional power under the Constitution.” Since October, some of the most prominent legal and constitutional scholars in the country have added their support and signatures to the analysis.
Jesse Wegman, The New York Times
“I started out thinking the E.R.A. was exceptional for raising difficult Article V questions,” David Pozen, a professor at Columbia Law School, [Advisory Board member of Columbia Law School's ERA Project] and the co-author of a recent study on the history of amendments, told me. “On the contrary, almost every single amendment that we have has been only debatably in compliance with Article V.” For example, Mr. Pozen pointed out, only one of the 27 recognized amendments — the 13th, which abolished slavery — received a president’s signature before being sent to the states. And yet Article I of the Constitution states clearly that “every order, resolution, or vote” of Congress must be approved by the president before it can “take effect.” Are amendments exempt from this requirement? If not, is every amendment but the 13th invalid?
Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN
The OLC released a new memo Wednesday night, saying that its 2020 memo is "not an obstacle either to Congress's ability to act with respect to ratification of the ERA or to judicial consideration of questions regarding the constitutional status of the ERA."
According to The ERA Project at Columbia Law School, the new OLC memo does not withdraw its 2020 memo nor does it instruct the archivist to publish the ERA, but suggests that the issue is properly before the federal courts and Congress.
Barbara Rodriguez, The 19th
The ERA Project at Columbia Law School’s Center for Gender and Sexuality has developed legal analysis on the Equal Rights Amendment. The group, which does not lobby lawmakers but instead shares research with [policymakers] and others, also believes the 2020 DOJ opinion should be withdrawn in part because it goes beyond the scope of the office’s duties. It called Thursday’s new opinion “a significant victory.”
“Congress historically has the role, and constitutionally has the role, to resolve any disputes in the Constitutional amendment process,” Ting Ting Cheng, director of the ERA Project, told The 19th.
Kathryn Rubino, Above the Law
Today the Equal Rights Amendment Project at Columbia Law School and VoteEqualityUS have released a pocket version of the Constitution. You probably haven’t thought about your pocket Constitution since law school, but this new version is way better than that old one — that’s because this one contains a 28th Amendment, the Equal Rights Amendment.
VoteEquality U.S. and ERA Project
Our friends at VoteEquality U.S. have created a Pocket Constitution which includes the ERA as the 28th Amendment. We are proud to contribute a hopeful foreword that envisions what We the People can and should mean. You can order your pocket constitution here.
David Pozen and Thomas P. Schmidt, Washington Post
"[H]istory holds at least two lessons for the ERA. The first is that for all that is distinctive about the amendment’s story, there is nothing unusual about the legal uncertainty that surrounds its status. On the contrary, attempts to amend the Constitution have consistently generated difficult legal puzzles. Critics of the ERA insist that its compliance with Article V is “constitutionally suspect.” The same could be said of nearly every recognized amendment. The Constitution supplies only limited guidance when fights break out over the textual content of the Constitution itself.
The second lesson is that the fate of the ERA should now rest in the hands of Congress. Because the law of Article V is so unsettled, controversies over the amendment process will continue to arise. It is critical that we have some means of resolving these controversies authoritatively and peacefully. Congress is in the best position to serve this function."
Fordham Law School
Professor Julie Suk is an interdisciplinary legal scholar, focusing on women as constitution-makers at the intersection of law, history, sociology, and politics. Professor Suk’s interest in constitutional and social change has led her to explore the twenty-first-century revival of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in her latest book, “We the Women: The Unstoppable Mothers of the Equal Rights Amendment.” She is also a member of the Academic Advisory Council of the ERA Project at Columbia Law School. Professor Suk’s scholarship calls for the modernization of the U.S. Constitution to make it more inclusive and responsive to twenty-first century concerns.
Irin Carmon, New York Magazine
“Once we start thinking about trans people, that gets more complicated,” Katherine Franke, a law professor and the director of Columbia’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, told me.
Franke had to contend with this tension in co-writing a brief before Pennsylvania’s state supreme court, arguing that denying Medicaid coverage for abortion violates the state’s equal-rights amendment. “I want to win, and I care about how we get there,” Franke says. “We’re making sure that our briefs are not trans exclusive — but making them trans inclusive is an even bigger lift. For that reason, I’m much more attracted to the stereotyping argument: that the denial of abortion rights is about perpetuating a set of gender stereotypes about who belongs at home or in the boardroom or in politics.”
So Franke’s brief in the Pennsylvania case, co-authored with Ting Ting Cheng, acknowledges that “gender-based stereotypes and norms burden not only women but also men,” as well as those “who do not conform to traditional expectations of what it means to be a man or a woman.” Refusing to cover abortion on the state’s Medicaid, they write, “functionally relegates low income women and pregnant people generally to second class status.”
The National Herald
"The letter highlighted a new legal analysis of the Trump OLC memo by preeminent constitutional and legal scholars affiliated with Columbia Law School’s ERA Project, including Erwin Chemerinsky. These scholars found that the Trump Administration’s OLC memo is based on a faulty legal analysis and should be withdrawn."
Carrie Baker, Ms. Magazine
"A wide range of organizations filed briefs supporting the challenge, including New Voices for Reproductive Justice and 24 other organizations advocating for Black women and girls; the ERA Project at Columbia Law School; the National Women’s Law Center; faith-based organizations; medical organizations and healthcare providers; the ACLU of Pennsylvania; the National Health Law Program; and members of the Democratic Caucuses of the Pennsylvania House and Senate."
Kathryn Rubino, Above the Law
"[T]he ERA Project at Columbia Law School — a law and policy think tank to develop academically rigorous research, policy papers, & expert guidance on the Equal Rights Amendment — has taken a slightly different approach. For Constitution Day, and as we come upon the one-year anniversary of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, they want to remind us that there still is not a constitutional amendment to guarantee equal treatment based on sex. Indeed, as a reminder, way back in 1787 when the Constitution was signed, it was not intended to include women. So, you know, an actual amendment about that is probably overdue."
Chris Hayes, MSNBC
Alexandra Brodsky: "[...] And so I think that a richer understanding of why sexual harassment is sex discrimination that avoids this problem, and I think is also just true, is actually just right, and I talk about this in the book, relying primarily on Katherine Franke's work, she's a law professional at Columbia, who talks about the ways in which sexual harassment is both based in sex stereotypes and then serves to replicate sex stereotypes."
Ting Ting Cheng is among Women's eNews' honorees for 21 Leaders for the 21st Century.
"Ting Ting Cheng is the Director of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) Project at Columbia Law School. As a civil rights attorney and activist, she litigated gender discrimination cases at Legal Momentum, the Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund. She was also an attorney at the New York City Commission for Human Rights, a public defender and immigrant defense attorney at Brooklyn Defender, and the Legal Director of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington."
Ting Ting Cheng and Marcy Syms, The Hill
The time has come to not only put an end to national economic policies that embrace what feminist historian Linda Gordon describes in the book “Pitied But Not Entitled: Single Mothers and the History of Welfare” as “a male vision,” but to repair historic disinvestment in women workers and especially women of color. This will require sex and race based set-asides in federal contracting, hiring women and people of color-owned businesses, including affirmative hiring and employment benchmarks in funding programs, and of course, universal child care, parenting leave and protections for pregnant workers, among other measures. It will also require enacting a constitutional protection against gender bias, in the form of the Equal Rights Amendment, to provide an ironclad protection of women’s rights.
The Biden administration’s infrastructure and economic recovery plans are an initial step towards removing and remedying the gender and racial bias baked into the U.S. social and economic policy. As a next step, Congress should act promptly to lift the deadline holding up the Equal Rights Amendment’s inclusion in the Constitution, thus securing sex equality, not as the gift or wisdom of one president only to be undone by the next, but as an explicit constitutional right that must be respected in every governmental law and policy.
Power Up Women! Podcast
It has been 97 years since Suffragist Alice Paul first drafted the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, beginning the long and still unsuccessful fight for equal protection under the law for American women. Even today, the USA is the ONLY modern democracy that does not explicitly include protections against sex-based discrimination in its Constitution. With more women, including women of color, elected to state and federal office, the ERA is once again gaining momentum. Columbia Law Professor Katherine Franke, who recently launched THE ERA PROJECT and Barbara Rodriguez, a journalist covering the renewed ERA push for The 19th clear up the misinformation and intentional disinformation about what the ERA would do and shed light on what it will take to finally get it passed.
CBS This Morning Podcast, CBS News
"Columbia University Law professor Katherine Franke joins CBS News congressional reporter Nikole Killion to discuss the status of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Initially proposed in 1923 and passed by Congress in 1972, the amendment would enshrine sex-based equality in the U.S. Constitution. Finally ratified by the required number of states in 2020, the status of the ERA remains an open question. Franke, head of the ERA Project at Columbia University's Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, explains the current roadblocks and additional steps required in order to have the Equal Rights Amendment officially added to the U.S. Constitution as the 28th Amendment."
Alisha Haridasani Gupta, New York Times
“Several legal scholars agree. Since the deadline is in the preamble, it may not even be legally binding, said Katherine Franke, a law professor at Columbia and faculty director of its E.R.A. Project research initiative. She also noted that, in the past, the Supreme Court has ruled that Congress has full control over the process of finalizing a constitutional amendment, which is how Congress already extended the E.R.A. deadline once.
“It’s, in many respects, an embarrassment that we don’t have express sex equality protections,” Ms. Franke said. “The E.R.A. provides an opportunity for a more modern approach to equality — I see it as a kind of modernizing tuneup of the Constitution that is way overdue.””
Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN
“Katherine Franke, faculty director of the ERA Project at Columbia Law School, said during an event Monday that even if Congress were to pass the resolutions declaring the ERA to have been completed "that will not put an end to the debates" and to expect litigation challenging that process.
Franke said key open legal questions include whether Congress has the power to change or lift its deadline retroactively, whether courts have jurisdiction over the ratification process itself, and whether states have the power to rescind an earlier ratification of an amendment.”
Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN
“Katherine Franke, faculty director of the ERA Project at Columbia Law School, said in a statement Saturday that "by dismissing the lawsuit, the federal court affirmed that making the ERA part of the U.S. Constitution lies primarily in the hands of the people and their elected representatives."
"Yesterday's ruling is not really a setback for sex equality or the ERA, rather it renews our focus on the bill introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (with 203 co-sponsors from both political parties) that would declare the ERA fully ratified whenever three-quarters of the states have voted to do so," Franke continued.”
March 1, 2021
Press Release, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney
“It is encouraging to see the ERA emerge as a priority in the 117th Congress,” said Professor Katherine Franke, Faculty Director of the ERA Project at Columbia Law School. "The U.S. Constitution, the world’s oldest written constitution, is the only major written constitution in the world that lacks specific protections for sex-based equality. This is a national embarrassment that the ERA is designed to fix.”
February 27, 2021
Kristina Peterson, Wall Street Journal
"The ERA would “impose a mandate upon the federal government, and state governments too, to take affirmative measures to dismantle existing sex-based inequality,” said Katherine Franke, faculty director at the ERA Project at Columbia Law School’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law. The ERA wouldn’t directly affect private businesses, she said, but it “may create a brand new norm that gets taken up by the private sector as a standard operating procedure around equality.”"
February 24, 2021
Editors, Women's eNews
"“It is important to include academic expertise encompassing a range of disciplines to effectively convey what the ERA should and would do,” Dr. Franke says.
[It] is not only women who would benefit from the amendment’s ratification. The ERA would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in multiple forms including discrimination against men, sexual orientation, gender identity, sex or gender stereotyping (such as discrimination against a person because they are a masculine woman or a feminine man), as well as discrimination in access to health care, including reproductive health care. Essentially, the ERA would make sex-based equality explicit in the US Constitution for the very first time, and benefit everyone. “It is not a women’s rights amendment, it is a sex equality amendment,” Prof. Franke adds."
January 25, 2021
Elise Shafer, Variety
Wade Leak, deputy general counsel at Sony Music Entertainment, and Liz Young, the company’s former EVP and global head of communications, are among the founding board of advisors for a law and policy think tank to develop academically rigorous research, policy recommendations and expert guidance on the Equal Rights Amendment. The Columbia Law School Center for Gender and Sexuality Law is headed by professor Katherine Franke, and was launched in 2004. The ERA Project nods to the late Columbia alumnus Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who taught the school’s first sex discrimination law courses. Head here for more information.