The Attorney General of Virginia is withdrawing from the ERA lawsuit

Republican Virginia Attorney General Jason Miares on Friday proposed withdrawing the state from a lawsuit aimed at forcing the federal government to recognize Virginia’s 2020 vote to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment and add text to the Constitution.

RICHMAND, Virginia (AP) – Attorney General of the Republic of Virginia Jason Miares on Friday decided to withdraw the state from a lawsuit aimed at forcing the federal government to recognize the Virginia vote in 2020 for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and add text.

In a court statement, Miares asked to dismiss the Commonwealth as a participant in a lawsuit that was initiated by his predecessor from the Democrats and is currently being heard in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

Miares, who took office on January 15, reconsidered Virginia’s position and believes the district court had previously correctly dismissed the lawsuit, the filing said.

Former Attorney General Mark Herrin and two other attorneys general from the Democratic Party originally filed a lawsuit in January 2020, days after the Virginia legislature voted to make the Commonwealth a key 38th state to ratify the amendment. The vote came after years of efforts by advocates who argued that the amendment guarantees women equal rights under the law. Miares, then a member of the House of Delegates, voted against ratification.

Constitutional amendments must be ratified by three-quarters of the states, or 38. But to complicate matters, Congress has introduced a deadline for ratification of the ERA that passed decades ago. A number of states have also revoked their ratifications.

Following the vote in Virginia in 2020, Trump’s Justice Department issued a legal note concluding that since the deadline expired, it was too late for states to ratify. The only option for supporters was to start the process again in Congress, the department said at the time.

The National Archives, which testifies to the ratification of the constitutional amendments, said it would adhere to that view “unless otherwise determined by a final court ruling.”

Nevada and Illinois, which were the 36th and 37th states to ratify the amendment, then joined Virginia in court with an archivist.

In March 2021, a district court judge appointed by former President Barack Obama granted a request by the administration of President Donald Trump and a group of Republican attorneys general to dismiss the lawsuit.

The plaintiff said he filed an appeal, filing an introductory application in January.

Victoria LaChivita, a spokeswoman for Miares, said Friday that “any further involvement in the lawsuit will undermine the U.S. Constitution and the amendment process.”

She referred not only to the decision in March 2021, but also to a note dated January 26 from the Office of Legal Advice of the Ministry of Justice, which did not depart from the preliminary conclusion that the ratification deadline had passed.

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford said in a statement that his office would continue its appeal. Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raul’s spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment by e-mail on Friday.

Proponents say the Equal Rights Amendment, originally proposed by Congress in 1923 and passed in 1972, would enshrine women’s equality in the Constitution, offering stronger protection in cases of sex discrimination and giving Congress stronger grounds for passing anti-discrimination laws. . Opponents warn that this impairs the protection of common sense for women, such as placement in the workplace during pregnancy, and could be used to support abortion rights.

A 2020 poll conducted by the Associated Press-NORC’s Center for Public Relations Research found that approximately 3 out of 4 Americans support the Gender Equality Amendment.

The news of Virginia’s exit was welcomed by the conservative Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, which had previously filed a lawsuit against a member of the court, opposing Virginia’s original position.

“The Equal Rights Amendment has been legally dead for decades because its supporters have been unable to enlist the necessary support from the states to amend the Constitution,” Kristen Waggoner, the group’s attorney general, said in a statement. “Virginia has made the right decision to drop this failed lawsuit.”

Douglas Johnson, director of the ERA National Right to Life project, said Herring was involved in the “swing” before it was “beaten up” at the district court level.

“Virginia is encouraged to remove herself before the next round of lawsuits,” he said.

Meanwhile, Democrats, including Herring, have criticized the move.

Minority minority leader Eileen Filler-Korn said Virginia Republicans “tried to undermine the will of the Virginia legislature and people by opposing the ERA.”

Virginia Democratic Chair Susan Svecker said Miares “sabotaged two years of work on the issue, calling the move” another truly disgusting effort to run his discriminatory, far-right and inviolable agenda. “

The application on Friday was the latest in a series of decisions by Miares to repeal the legal action taken by Herring.

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