Speed Reads

Election 2019

Virginia, now in Democratic hands, will try to push the Equal Rights Amendment over the finish line

Virginia Democrats had a really good Tuesday.

After flipping control of both houses of the state General Assembly, the party will, for the first time since 1993, control the state House, the state Senate, and the governor's office in January. Democrats also hold both U.S. Senate seats, the lieutenant governorship, and the attorney general's office. That means Democrats will be in control of drawing the next federal and state legislative districts, and they have promised to use their new majorities to pass stricter gun laws, raise the minimum wage, and ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

Virginia, then, is on track to be the 38th and final state needed to enact the ERA — maybe. When Congress passed the ERA in 1972 — proposing to amend the Constitution to say: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex" — it essentially gave America seven years to get the three-quarters majority of states needed to enshrine the amendment. Congress would almost certainly need to extend that deadline before the amendment could be added to the Constitution.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is probably up to the task of thwarting legislation to extend or eliminate the deadline. But the ERA has been under consideration for nearly 100 years, and if Virginia ratifies it, the amendment can outwait the senior senator from Kentucky too.