Virginia moves to pass the Equal Rights Amendment

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia has moved to the brink of becoming the crucial 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. The vote by both of the state's legislative chambers Wednesday is a momentous victory for many women's rights advocates. But it is far from certain the measure will ever be added to the U.S. Constitution.

The vote came decades after Congress sent the ERA to the states in 1972, passing it with bipartisan support.  

The amendment states, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

However, the future of the ERA is unclear. Louisiana is among three states looking to block the amendment.

The lawsuit notes that Congress set a 1982 deadline to get the required 38 states to agree. It seeks to prevent the archivist of the United States from accepting a new ratification from a state.

And the Justice Department says it's too late to add the amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Thirty-five states ratified the ERA before the deadlines expired.

Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel said the amendment has expired and Congress would have to start all over again. Supporters of the amendment disagree and have filed a federal lawsuit in Massachusetts hoping to pave a legal path.