Attorney General Nessel Files Brief in Equal Rights Amendment Case, Pays Homage to 'Mother of the ERA'

Contact: Ryan Jarvi 517-335-7666
Agency: Attorney General

July 7, 2020

LANSING – Attorney General Dana Nessel recently filed an amicus brief on behalf of the State of Michigan in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia circuit, in a case involving the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), Commonwealth of Virginia v Ferriero, Case No. 1:20-cv-242-RC. The brief supports three plaintiff states, Illinois, Nevada and Virginia – the last three states to ratify the ERA – which are asking the Court to recognize the ERA as the 28th Amendment and thus declare, once and for all, that equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex.  

The brief, filed late Thursday, outlines the history of the ERA and the important work of Michigan hero Martha Griffiths, known as the “Mother of the ERA.” Martha Griffiths, the first woman sent to Congress by Michigan voters, pushed the amendment through Congress in the early 1970s. She made history as the first woman to serve on the powerful House Committee on Ways and Means and was the first woman to hold the post of Lieutenant Governor of Michigan.  

The brief argues that equality in law is one of the hallmark promises of America, which is ultimately why the ERA must be included in our Constitution. The brief states: “Michigan would like to see the work of Martha Griffiths, a Michigan hero who worked tirelessly for sex equality and who championed the ERA, come to fruition. And Michigan has an interest in ensuring that its residents receive the highest level of protection from discrimination on the basis of sex—a goal that can be achieved by ensuring that the ERA’s guarantee of equality is enshrined in our nation’s most treasured document: the United States Constitution.” 

“It is time to put culture wars aside and to recognize that the elimination of sex inequality is a fundamental expression of who we are as people, who we are as Americans, and of the united nation we continually aspire to be. That is why the ERA must be a part of our Constitution, as fundamental law and as a permanent part of our nation’s future,” Nessel said. “Martha Griffiths made history throughout her quest for equality and I am proud to file this brief in support of an act that embraces a basic social, intellectual and moral truth.” 

The ERA is a straightforward and important proposition that has seen much delay and controversy. The amendment consists of one simple sentence: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

A copy of the brief is available here.  

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