Since 2009 Equal Means Equal has been dedicated to doing whatever it takes to realizing the century old dream of Constitutional equality. We believe in the impossible, that’s why we revived the sentinels and drove around those big purple trucks; we won’t take no for an answer, that’s why we file suit after suit in court; we know equality has no party, so we demand accountability from ALL of our elected officials. Despite two bills in Congress, nearly 232 years of precedent, one of the largest caucuses in Congress, and overwhelming public support, the Equal Rights Amendment remains unpublished despite Virginia’s ratification being certified 1,380 days ago and counting. Every movement needs someone to say the quiet parts out loud, to be the first to start chanting, the one to take the position out front; and for the ERA it’s usually us, especially in court. We couldn’t let the Equal Rights Amendment’s 100th birthday pass without taking one more big shot at seeing the 28th amendment take its rightful place in the Constitution so cue the lawyers…
“We need in every bay and community a group of angelic troublemakers.”-Bayard Rustin
Throughout the fight that led to the Dobbs decision, EQUAL MEANS EQUAL and others picked up on a worrying trend; people were losing cases (and rights) left and right because their best defense, the now fully ratified Equal Rights Amendment, was being left on the table.
One of our lawyers, Arlaine Rockey, who, along with Gina Collias and Pamela Parker wrote amici curiae briefs in all three courts in our case against the US Archivist for failing to publish the ERA, realized that the legal team representing the women in the Dobbs lawsuit were not using the Federal ERA to save their reproductive rights and made Herculean efforts to have them do so.
Below is a precise timeline of what happened (and DID NOT happen):
- Jan 27th 2020 Virginia becomes final state needed to ratify the ERA
- December 1 2021 Jackson Women’s Health Organization present oral arguments in the Dobbs case by their attorney, Julie Rikelman, Senior Director of Litigation for the Center for Reproductive Rights and the US Solicitor General, Elizabeth Prelogar, representing the US Government,
- December 6th 2021, Attorney Arlaine Rockey contacts Julie Rikelman, by telephone, fax and email urging her to use ERA, which was set to become legally-effective on Jan 27 2022 (per ERA Section 3) in her arguments.
- THEY DO NOT RESPOND
- Jan 27th 2022 ERA becomes fully enforceable Federal law
- On May 2nd 2022 the proposed majority opinion by Justice Samuel Alito is leaked and released to the public in which he writes that Roe v. Wade, 410 U. S. 113 (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U. S. 833 (1992) were overruled because, “… no such right to abortion is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision….”
- On May 3rd 2022, Attorney Rockey again contacts lawyer Julie Rikelman and her co-counsel Hillary Schneller, urgently requesting that they use ERA to protect women’s rights.
- THEY DO NOT RESPOND
- On May 16th of 2022 Attorney Rockey and attorney Gina Collias file an Amended Motion for Leave to File an Amicus Brief in Support of Respondents on behalf of ERA-NC Alliance asserting that the Federal ERA provided the textual basis, and implicitly a fundamental right to abortion, that Justice Alito claimed was absent in the Constitution. Jackson Women’s Health Organization’a attorneys Julie Rikelman and her co-counsel Hillary Schneller, opposing counsel & the Solicitor General of the United States, Elizabeth Prelogar, are all served with the motion.
- THEY DO NOT RESPOND
- On June 1st, 2022 Attorney Rockey again contacts the US Solicitor General, Elizabeth Prelogar, with the motion and a request for President Biden to immediately publish ERA by Executive Order to the U.S. Archivist.
- THEY DO NOT RESPOND
- On June 17th 2022 Attorney Rockey contacts Mr. Stuart F. Delery, White House Counsel, urging President Biden to use an Executive Order (a draft of one was enclosed) to publish ERA as a means to to put SCOTUS and the nation on public notice that the ERA was now published in the Constitution, and the attorneys in the Dobbs case could no longer ignore it.
- THEY DO NOT RESPOND
- On June 22nd, 2022 Attorney Rockey contacts all of the attorneys at the Center for Reproductive Rights in their New York and Washington DC offices, including Julie Rikelman again.
- THEY DO NOT RESPOND
- June 24th 2022 the Dobbs Decision is handed down.
- On July 7th Attorney Rockey again contacts the Center for Reproductive Rights, this time focusing on the President/CEO directly, Nancy Northup, and copying the all of Jackson Women’s Health Organization’s attorneys, asking them to request a re-hearing to submit ERA.
- THEY DO NOT RESPOND
- On Aug 1 2022, attorney Julie Rikelman is appointed Judge to the Federal US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit by President Biden. She is confirmed on June 20, 2023.
EQUAL MEANS EQUAL is extremely clear-eyed about the collusion and abject corruption in the movement to suppress ERA and rollback women’s rights in this country. We present you with this timeline, these facts, so you can come to your own conclusions based on the evidence. We know that they knew the ERA would save women’s reproductive rights and yet, they chose not to do so.
We don’t know why politicians, judges, officials at all levels of government, abortion rights groups, lawyers and other organizations who are presumably on our side, are failing to use the fully ratified Equal Rights Amendment as a defense of our rights — just that they are.
We don’t know what could possibly stop the publication of a fully ratified amendment, something no controversy or catastrophe, even a civil war, has ever prevented before — just that something is.
We can’t say for sure what is causing this unprecedented response (or more accurately, lack thereof) but what we CAN say is this:
We have now decided to INTERVENE in these cases and call out these supposedly “pro-women” groups who are failing to use the ERA to save our reproductive rights.
EQUAL MEANS EQUAL SEEKS TO INTERVENE IN SIX-WEEK ABORTION BAN CASE IN TEXAS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NOVEMBER 8TH 2023
Contact: Kamala Lopez
THREE LEADING WOMEN’S RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS SEEK TO INTERVENE IN TEXAS SIX-WEEK ABORTION BAN CASE BECAUSE THE GROUPS THAT FILED THE CASE FAILED TO CITE THE FEDERAL ERA OR ASK THE COURT FOR MAXIMUM LEGAL PROTECTION AND FULLY EQUAL TREATMENT OF WOMEN
Today in Texas, three prominent women’s rights groups, EQUAL MEANS EQUAL, Elizabeth Cady Stanton Trust and The Women’s and Children’s Advocacy Project filed pleadings to intervene in an abortion rights case now pending before the Texas Supreme Court (Zurawski v Texas).
The women’s groups criticized the plaintiffs, abortion rights groups, and accused them of committing legal malpractice against all women. Key among their criticisms is that the case was filed only under the Texas Constitution; they failed to also cite the federal Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) even though it affords women maximum legal protections and, despite disagreement about the ERA’s validity, many members of Congress and constitutional scholars have declared the ERA valid.
More shocking, while the plaintiffs asserted a claim under the Texas Constitution’s equivalent of the federal ERA, they failed to cite the McLean case – a Texas Supreme Court decision that requires maximum legal protection for all women’s rights. Instead, the plaintiffs cited only cases from other states, which the Texas Supreme Court can ignore simply because they are not Texas rulings. The Texas Supreme Court would be required to follow McLean as its own precedent, but not if the plaintiffs don’t cite it in their case.
The women’s groups that filed to intervene asked the Texas Supreme Court to apply and follow the McLean case and the federal ERA, and rule that women are entitled to maximum legal protection for their rights, on par with the rights of all other people in Texas.
The women’s groups emphasized in their brief that the Court’s ruling will have broad-sweeping implications for all women’s rights in Texas, not just abortion rights, because the Court is poised to decide whether the Texas Constitution’s state ERA requires equal treatment of women under any laws.
“We are stunned, frankly, that an abortion rights group would claim to be fighting for women’s rights yet fail to assert the best possible legal arguments on behalf of women,” said Kamala Lopez, director of EQUAL MEANS EQUAL (EME) a longtime advocacy group focused on the Equal Rights Amendment, and one of the groups seeking to intervene in the case. “Numerous members of Congress have stated in formal documents currently on file with Congress, that the Equal Rights Amendment is currently the Twenty-Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. These same members of Congress agree that the ERA affords women maximum legal protections for their rights, including abortion rights. So why would an abortion rights group that claims to be fighting for women’s rights fail to ask the Texas Supreme Court to apply the ERA? Why would they instead ask for weaker legal protections under the Texas Constitution when they know the Equal Rights Amendment is better for women because it has stronger legal protections? This oversight, ignorance or deliberate failure to advocate for the best interests of women in America is greatly concerning to us and our members.”
Coline Jenkins, great-great granddaughter of famed suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton and President of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Trust (ECST) another of the organizations that filed to intervene in the case, said, “I am perplexed by the failure of abortion rights groups to cite and rely on the ERA, given how powerful the ERA is for women and considering 38 states have ratified the Amendment. The US Constitution’s threshold of 38 states has been met, thus the ERA is now the 28th Amendment and is the law of our land. All women’s groups should now be using it and citing it in all court cases that involve unfair or discriminatory treatment of women. Why wouldn’t every women’s group in this country exercise their constitutional right and insist that all courts respect and apply the ERA in all cases, but especially abortion rights cases which are such an important topic for women right now?”
Massachusetts attorney Wendy Murphy, who filed the intervention case on behalf of the women’s organizations, said “the ERA affords women the best possible legal protections, and fully equal treatment, under all laws.” She emphasized that the ERA alone can restore abortion rights in all states, “but lawyers fighting for abortion rights need to use it and cite it, or the courts won’t apply it.”
Murphy explained how the ERA overrides the Supreme Court’s ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade. “In the Dobbs case, the Supreme Court said women have no constitutional right to abortion because nothing in the Constitution gives women such a right. I disagree, but regardless, the court was not talking about the ERA because none of the lawyers in Dobbs asked the court to apply the ERA. Had they done so, the Supreme Court could not have overturned Roe v. Wade, because the ERA creates the legal basis under which women do have a constitutional right to abortion.”
“The ERA not only fixes the Constitution and mandates equal treatment of women under all laws, it makes abortion a gender-specific issue under the Constitution.” Murphy added, “any women’s group or abortion rights group that fails to cite the ERA in court is committing legal malpractice against all women. it’s that simple.”
The groups plan to intervene in other state abortion cases where the federal ERA is not being cited, or where abortion rights groups are not asking courts to afford women maximum legal protections and fully equal treatment of women.
While there may be blowback from this, we cannot sit back and watch people suffer and die when there is something to stop it; especially something that is already valid and would be protecting us if it were enforced.
The proof that one truly BELIEVES is in action.” ― Bayard Rustin
The ERA will not only restore and permanently protect our reproductive rights, but pave the way for equal pay, enshrine marriage equality, and so much more.
We must act NOW to seize this small window of opportunity — when the expedient thing for those that need our vote the most is also the thing we the people need the most: the immediate publication of the fully ratified and ready EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT.
Yours in joyful disruption, peaceful powerful, and fierce determination-
Kamala, Natalie, Alice, Shannon, Joel, Tom, Roberto, Rob, Natily, and the entire EME team