Congressional Power to Effect Sex Equality

Congressional Power to Effect Sex Equality

Patricia A. Seith

This article will be published in our forthcoming Winter 2013 issue.

From its passage by Congress in 1972 to its ratification failure in 1982, the Equal Rights Amendment (“ERA”) pivotally shaped sex equality discourse. While historians and legal scholars have examined and analyzed its demise, its failure has been deemed inconsequential for constitutional doctrine — conventional wisdom submits that a “de facto ERA” was achieved through judicial action. This Article argues that this dominant narrative has obscured the other half of the equation — the role of Congress in implementing the “de facto ERA.” Through original archival and legislative research, this Article offers a new account of congressional action aimed at entrenching the substantive guarantees of the sex equality principle. This Articles introduces the Economic Equity Act to the sex equality narrative.

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