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ERA Debate, Defeat and the Aftermath

Ratification of an amendment to the Constitution requires the support of three-fourths of the states or thirty-eight states. When the ERA passed Congress in 1972, many states competed to be the first to ratify the amendment. (Hawaii won.) Twenty-two ratified in 1972, eight in 1973, three in 1974, one in 1975, and one in 1977. In fact, a reversal in the trend started when four states voted to rescind their previous ratifications. No state voted to ratify it after 1977, and, despite winning extensions of the Congressimposed deadline, time ran out in 1982. Since 1982, scholars have examined the reasons for the defeat of the ERA in the states (Berry 1986; Hoff-Wilson 1986; Mansbridge 1986; see also Boles 1979). The reasons involve an interaction between the kind of political process surrounding constitutional amendments in the United States and the conflict over the meaning of the ERA.