Wording of the Equal Rights Amendment

"Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."

Sunday, July 4, 2010

For Susan Guggenheim Jury Service is not an option.

Today is the 4th of July and one woman in Pennsylvania made a stand recently for the natural rights memorialized in the Declaration of Independence.    Susan Guggenheim was standing at the door of her home, stooping over to pick up the mail, when she spied the jury notice.  She had just joined the ERA Campaign Network, a group dedicated to the ratification of the ERA Amendment written by Alice Paul, the woman responsible for obtaining for women the right to vote in 1920. 

Susan reports she was experiencing a growing anger at the failure of the Women's Movement to affirm women in their inherent rights.    After carrying the card around for several days she filled it out, declining to serve, the reason being that she is not a full citizen of the United States and therefore cannot sit as a juror.  In part, she was angry at the long pause in the campaign to affirm the rights of women.  In part, she recognized the opportunity to focus attention on a fact which has evaded the attention of American men and women for nearly a century.    Women can vote but they are not full citizens, with their rights affirmed by the Constitution.  

This fact should give women pause today and send them on line to read the Declaration of Independence, America's mission statement.  Today, with fascism hanging over all of us, remember the war for freedom, so nearly lost now, was never finished.  

The card was mailed off.  In due time Susan received a card which accepted her reason and excused her from jury duty.    Which is, according to Ms. Guggenhein, the beginning of the real story.   

Women, she said, can protest the failure to ratify the ERA by following her example.  Despite expressed concerns such a protest will be viewed as 'domestic terrorism,' many women are now eagerly awaiting their jury notice and will follow Susan's example.  According to Susan, many are already doing so.    And women who understand the danger in which they stand, especially today with the propensities of government revealed, are willing, knowing how much is at stake.   

Asked if she expected to start a movement Ms. Guggenheim responded, “it could happen.  The issue has been reviewed by law professors and we are standing on firm ground.”  And ultimately, as Susan B. Anthony said, “Failure is Impossible.”   You can get in touch with Susan through the website Women of the Jury


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  2. Note - I reviewed two scholarly papers, one by Professor Ritter, the other by Professor Grossman, and I think we are standing on ambiguous ground, meaning that the issue of whether or not women have full and equal citizenship in the US without an ERA is up for debate. I would welcome a dialogue by legal scholars, I'm just a protester, not a lawyer. So it's my opinion that without an amendment, I do NOT have full or equal citizenship in the US.

  3. Some corrections - my growing anger has always been about the defeat of the ERA since 1982, and the inability of women in the USA to get another amendment passed and into the process of ratification. I have never been angry with the Women's Movement or the WLM, we tried our damnest to get it done.

    And domestic terrorism is a good sound bite, but this is a protest, not an act of terrorism. A good old-fashioned, American protest. This protest is traditional, historical, grass roots, benign, and about our most fundamental rights and responsibilities.

    Also, for those who join me, I want to be clear that we are not declining to serve, we are protesting by pointing out that "without a Constitutional Amendment, we are not full or equal citizens under the Constitution" as it stands, and because we are not full or equal citizens, we have no obligation to perform jury service.

  4. Admittedly, this movement is news to me but, based on what I learned in Constitutional Law, the Equal Protection clause of the 14th amendment protects all persons, including women. When a state acts in a discriminatory fashion against women, that action is subject to intermediate scrutiny; in other words, they have to demonstrate that the action is substantially related to an important government interest. This is a lower level of scrutiny than, say, classifications based on race, because there are no biological differences that could justify disparate treatment based on race, so it is presumed to be invidious. My view is that the Supreme Court extends protection (and sometimes preferential treatment) to women in a way that is consistent with undeniable physical differences and privacy issues(e.g., a father-to-be cannot veto a woman's decision to have an abortion; in fact, a state cannot require a pregnant woman to give mere notice to the known father, as this is too burdensome on her right to choose.)

    I guess it might help me understand your gripe if you point out some of the manifestations of this insufficient constituonal protection. If you can only point to theoretical inequalities, I think it may be an uphill battle to amend the constituion of the U.S. Still, you have officially engaged me in the debate, so that's progress.

  5. This is why and ERA matters. Not theoretical at all, but played out in the courts on a daily basis: "women seeking enforcement of these laws must not only convince the courts that discrimination has occurred, but that it matters."


    Laws to prevent sex discrimination are simply not enough. The bleak reality is that because hard-won laws against sex discrimination do not rest on a strong constitutional foundation, they are essentially ephemeral. These federal laws and regulations contain many loopholes; are inconsistently interpreted, or worse — ignored; and may be weakened by amendment or repealed outright.
    Also, women seeking enforcement of these laws must not only convince the courts that discrimination has occurred, but that it matters. A constitutional guarantee of equality would absolutely shift the burden away from those fighting discrimination and place it where it belongs, on those who would discriminate. They would have to justify why discrimination should be allowed rather than women having to explain why we deserve equality.

    See this article - http://www.equalrightsamendment.org/misc/APSA%202001.pdf (see page 7)