Miss. Senator Warns of Equal Rights Amendment Harm to Women, the Unborn, and Constitutional Amendment Process

022823 Judiciary ERA 
VIDEO CLIP:  Senator Hyde-Smith Warns of Consequences of Revived Expired ERA.
VIDEO:  Senator Hyde-Smith’s Testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today testified against the latest effort to enshrine the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) into the U.S. Constitution, warning that the legally dubious effort could undo decades of progress by women and girls over the past 50 years.

Hyde-Smith, chair of the Senate Pro-Life Caucus, was invited to testify at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled, The Equal Rights Amendment: How Congress Can Recognize Ratification and Enshrine Equality in Our Constitution.  Hyde-Smith’s testimony hit three primary points:  1.)  ERA ratification would nullify existing protections for women; 2.)  Amendment advocates’ true motive is to use the ERA to enshrine the right to an abortion in the Constitution; and 3.)  Efforts to retroactively revive an expired 1972 ERA is unconstitutional.

“The Equal Rights Amendment proposes to add vague language to the U.S. Constitution to ensure equality between the sexes.  However, the ERA won’t do that.  In fact, it would do the exact opposite and instead harm the very women it intends to protect,” Hyde-Smith testified, citing the 14th Amendment, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and other laws as existing protections from discrimination already extended to women.

“I am particularly concerned about the privacy and safety for women and girls that the Equal Rights Amendment would destroy.  Locker rooms, prisons, hospital rooms, domestic violence shelters, and restrooms would all allow men into areas where women should feel safe and protected,” she said.

Regarding the effect of the ERA on pro-life protections, Hyde-Smith said pro-abortion supporters now see ERA ratification as a path to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

 “Advocates of the ERA are also no longer shy about their goal to use the ERA to impose unrestricted abortion on demand up to the moment of birth across the entire nation—and to force taxpayers to pay for it,” said Hyde-Smith, who penned an April 2021 op-ed with then-Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) on the motives of pro-abortion groups.

“Their apparent goal is to use the ERA to overturn the Dobbs decision that returned the issue of abortion to the legislative process, and instead re-empower unelected judges to impose a radical abortion policy that is in line with China and North Korea,” the Senator continued.

Finally, Hyde-Smith said new resolutions to deem the ERA ratified are unconstitutional.  Advocates contend 38 states have ratified the ERA but fail to acknowledge the finality of a 1982 deadline set by Congress for ratification or the fact that five states revoked their previous ratification.

“The legitimate constitutional role of Congress in the constitutional amendment process ended when Congress submitted the Equal Rights Amendment to the States on March 22, 1972,” Hyde-Smith said.  “In Idaho v. Freeman, federal District Judge Marion Callister held that Article V does not permit Congress to extend a ratification deadline, writing that, ‘Once the proposal is made, Congress is not at liberty to change it.’”

“Congress has no power to go back in time and resurrect an expired constitutional amendment, like the ERA.  Under Article V, however, Congress may again propose the same or modified language addressing the same subject and try to approve a new joint resolution with the required two-thirds votes in each house of Congress,” the Senator concluded. 

Read Hyde-Smith’s full statement here.