January 16, 2020 – Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment after its Senate and House of Delegates voted Wednesday to approve the change to the U.S. Constitution. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), provides that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

The amendment was quickly approved by 35 states back in 1972. It has taken another 48 years to get the final three states to ratify it. There are legal questions concerning the ERA. The ERA’s text does not contain a deadline; the deadline is mentioned in the resolution proposing the amendment but not in the text of the amendment itself.

“Currently there is nothing in the constitution that states men and women are of equal citizenship stature. It’s hard to believe that 100 years after women got the right to vote, we still aren’t equal under the law. I never would have guessed our state would spend taxpayer dollars to try make sure it remains that way.” – Nikki Gronli, Vice Chair, South Dakota Democratic Party

Possibly Colman v. Miller (1939) holds the answer. The Supreme Court has said, “Congress in controlling the promulgation of the adoption of a constitutional amendment has the final determination of the question whether, by lapse of time, its proposal of the amendment had lost its vitality prior to the required ratifications.

It is the position of the South Dakota Democratic Party that ratification of this amendment will not cause great change to American law now, but it will solidify legal protections for women no matter the political or social climate of the future. Although legal protections have been added for women over the years, many the work of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the make-up of future Supreme Courts could threaten those protections.

“This is about my step-daughter, my granddaughter, and letting women know that no matter what the future looks like, their status is documented and protected by our constitution. Again, I am shocked our attorney general would try to stop that for South Dakota women, with our tax dollars.” – Nikki Gronli, Vice Chair, South Dakota Democratic Party

“All it takes is a couple of new justices who lack an evolved view of gender equality to get the right case and set women back decades. That’s a scary thought.” – Randy Seiler, Chair, South Dakota Democratic Party

If you have questions, please contact SDDP Vice Chair Nikki Gronli via or call (605) 376-3337.