Equal Rights Amendment

(1972)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

The text of both versions of the ERA is relatively short. Alice Paul's original 1921 text is deceptively simple, stating that both genders shall have equal rights under the law. The revised version is subtly different, dropping the word men and stating that women's rights shall not be denied by the federal government or by any of its states. The revised version also includes two additional clauses, one stating that Congress shall have the right to enforce the law and one giving the time frame for compliance. Ostensibly, Paul revised the ERA to conform the language to that of the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The Fifteenth Amendment, passed in 1870, states that “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude” and that “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by...

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Alice Paul (Library of Congress)

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