FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, December 18, 2019
PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg announced today that South Dakota has joined with the states of Alabama and Louisiana in a lawsuit aimed at protecting the rule of law in the United States. The suit is against the Archivist of the United States — the federal officer who oversees the ratification process for constitutional amendments — seeking to prevent him from illegally adding the long-failed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution.
In 1972, Congress proposed the ERA to the United States Constitution. The States were given seven years to ratify the ERA and make it a formal part of the Constitution. Ratification required three-fourths (38 out of 50) of the States to take place. Over the course of that seven-year period only thirty-five states had ratified the ERA. Prior to the end of the seven-year deadline, five of those states, South Dakota, Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Tennessee, reconsidered and rescinded their ratifications.
Forty years later some States are now seeking to ratify the amendment by attempting to shortcut the proper, legal route to constitutional ratification and push forward. According to Ravnsborg this proposed process is flawed. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has recently stated that in order to be added to the Constitution the ERA would have to be put back into the “political hopper” and proponents would be required to restart the ratification process.
“The South Dakota Legislature ratified the ERA in 1973, but in 1979 passed Senate Joint Resolution 2 which required the ERA be ratified in the original time limit set by Congress or be rescinded. Because thirty-eight states failed to ratify the amendment by March 31, 1979 the South Dakota Legislature rescinded its ratification of the ERA,” said Ravnsborg. “It is the duty of the Attorney General to defend and support our Legislature. It would be a disservice to the citizens of South Dakota to ignore this obligation of my office.”
“This is an issue of following the rule of law, the rules that our founding fathers put into place to protect us from government making decisions without the consent or support of ‘we the people.’” continued Attorney General Ravnsborg. “If Congress wants to pass an updated version of the ERA, taking into consideration all the changes in the law since 1972, I have no doubt the South Dakota Legislature would debate the merits in a new ratification process. An amendment to the Constitution should not be done by procedural nuances decades after the deadline prescribed by Congress, but through an open and transparent process where each State knows the ramifications of its actions.”
Complaint: IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA WESTERN DIVISION
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