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Tuesday, 05 November 2013 00:00

The ERA and the NCGA 2013

Written by  Marena Groll

Targeting women’s right to vote may be the undoing of extreme governance and an opportunity to take care of constitutionally unfinished business for women – an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The newly declared war on the right of women in NC to vote looks to be the match to the fuse in the renewed push for passing an ERA.

NC legislators introduced House Bill 589, the Voter Identification and Verification Act (VIVA) requiring strict forms of photo ID constituting an assault on the19th Amendment passed in 1920 guaranteeing women the right to vote. Assaulting a class of citizen’s right to vote undermines their ability to address every other issue of inequality and discrimination and is therefore a politically lethal weapon.

From a Democracy NC report, consider this critical finding that indicates that the new law disproportionately impacts women. The Board matched its list of registered voters with the DMV list of people holding a license or state identity card. The Board found that about 506,600 active, registered voters could not reliably be matched with the DMV list.

Focusing on those voters consider that women are 54% of all active registered voters, but 66% of the active registered voters without a NC photo ID. Almost 335,150 women are at risk for being silenced because they don’t have the exclusive photo ID being required.

They are the LARGEST DEMOGRAPHIC at risk as a result of the strict forms of photo ID laws.

http://www.democracy-nc.org/downloads/NoIDDataSheet.pdf

  • African Americans are 22% of all active registered voters, but they are 31% of the active registered voters who do not have a NC photo ID.
  • Seniors are 18% of active voters, but 26% of those without a NC photo ID.
  • Youth are 13% of active voters, but 16% of those without a NC photo ID.

No doubt some women are caught up in the process of changing names to accommodate our culture of patriarchy, only to have it used against them in a further act of patriarchy to limit their voting.

You can’t vote them out if you don’t possess the exclusive ID they require to do so.

Had women been a constitutionally suspect class by sex they would have had much stronger footing to join those challenging VIVA based on the suspect class of race.

Make no mistake, there has never been a woman born of any color who has drawn a breath being definitively guaranteed her civil rights under the U.S. Constitution in the way that men of every color have.

Roberta W. Francis, National Council of Women’s Organization ERA Task Force Co-Chair, analyzes recent court cases as to the effect the passage of an ERA could have considering “strict scrutiny” versus the lesser “skeptical scrutiny” in race and sex discrimination cases.

“For the first time, "sex" would be a suspect classification requiring the same high level of "strict scrutiny" and having to meet the same high level of justification — a "necessary" relation to a "compelling" state interest — that the classification of race currently requires.”

“Ironically, under current court decisions about sex and race discrimination, a white male claiming race discrimination by a program or action is protected by strict scrutiny, but a black female claiming sex discrimination by the same program or action is protected by only skeptical, not strict, scrutiny:” “Unless we put into the Constitution the bedrock principle that equality of rights cannot be denied or abridged on account of sex, the political and judicial victories women have achieved with their blood, sweat, and tears for the past two centuries are vulnerable to erosion or reversal at any time — now or in the future.”

http://equalrightsamendment.org/why.htm

Erosion abounds in the increased opposition we saw to Title IX (equal opportunity in education), the Violence against Women Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act. The Health Care rights debacle drew thousands of protesting women to our legislature mirroring the actions of fed-up women in other states. Unbelievably there are legislators voting to pay for Viagra for servicemen but opposing funding for family planning and contraception and denying resources for abortion services even in cases of rape and incest.

In the recent government shutdown, slashing of education funds, cuts to domestic violence programs and ripping up of social safety net programs coupled with a refusal to expand Medicaid have hurt women the worst. The NC Council of Women reports that nearly 17 percent of North Carolina women live in poverty or near-poverty. Almost 200,000 of them, operating with no health insurance, may lose out further because our legislators refused to expand Medicaid although it was largely paid for under the Affordable Care Act.

But even in the midst of assaults, four joint resolutions bills were introduced into the US Senate and House in 2013 supporting more than one path to pass an ERA and pushing back against the assaults on women’s rights - Senate Joint Resolution 10 and House Joint Resolution 56 for the traditional Article V ratification process of the ERA and Senate Joint Resolution 15 and House Joint Resolution 43 for the “three-state strategy” process that would remove the time limit for ratification.

As tellingly, attending recent women’s conferences in NC, discussions of a state constitutional ERA have erupted in concert with discussions of the number of women voters potentially silenced by the actions of the NCGA.

Ironic. Depriving women of their vote may well result in a constitutional ERA that ensures no one ever gets another chance to do that.

Let’s take care of that unfinished business.

Read 3248 times Last modified on Thursday, 07 November 2013 16:43

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