Issues ERA 3 State Strategy Economic and Social Justice 'With Liberty and Justice for All' -- Our Democracy on the Brink
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 15:54

'With Liberty and Justice for All' -- Our Democracy on the Brink

Written by  Pearl Korn, Co-authored by Jonathan Stone | Huffington Post

The promise of "liberty and justice for all" remains a vital part of our nation's Pledge of Allegiance, and is embedded in our childhood memories of starting each school day with this oath. 

We were learning to be proud Americans through the recitation of the pledge, which has been with us since the late 19th century, when it was composed by a Socialist -- yes, that's right, a Socialist -- minister named Francis Bellamy. Bellamy's Pledge was simple and relatively benign, requiring only that we declare our allegiance to the flag and the "one nation" it represents, with no reference to any influence from above. However, in 1954 the words "under God" were inserted by Congress at the urging of President Eisenhower as a way to distinguish ourselves from the "godless" Communists. The addition of those two words led to several court cases -- some going all the way up to the Supreme Court -- that determined, among other things, that kids had the right to not say the pledge in school if they did not want to. Today, many schools across the country exercise this hard-fought right as well, and in schools that do still recite the pledge, children cannot be forced to participate, nor can they be punished for opting out.

As the Supreme Court decision in the McCutcheon v. FEC case was delivered last week, for some reason the pledge popped into my head. I thought about the potential impact of Americans -- at least the 99 percent of us who won't now be able to spend millions of dollars influencing elections because of this decision -- expressing their anger at the Supreme Court's latest giveaway of political power to the 1 percent by having their children remain mute the next time they were asked to recite the Pledge. And what of those sporting events that open with the singing of "The Star Spangled Banner"? What better way could there be for us to display our horror at last week's decision than by remaining silent then, too? Such acts could send a very clear message that we, the American people, are fully aware that our democracy is on the verge of vanishing. We might also note that the pledge is recited daily in Congress by its members. Could the backlash extend even to that hallowed chamber, with Progressives and other Dems showing their displeasure at the Court's decision by remaining silent as well? Even the president will have to find some way to acknowledge this disaster, as he will now surely have a much more difficult time peddling our rapidly diminishing brand of democracy to the world in his travels.

The day before the decision was announced -- on April Fools' Day, no less -- Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chairman of the House Budget Committee, revealed this year's version of the GOP budget, which is pretty much the same old flaky stuff he has been peddling since 2011. Its centerpiece is a $5.1 trillion cut in federal spending over the next ten years, achieved in part by slashing food stamps -- yet again -- and cutting all forms of government sponsored healthcare for the poor and working class, including, of course, repealing Obamacare. His budget would also institute severe cuts to student aid and pensions for federal workers, while Medicare vouchers and cuts to Social Security benefits would also be on the menu -- despite the pushback from most Americans on these proposals in the past. Meanwhile, there would be no tax increases for the wealthy, but cuts instead -- surprise, surprise.

Ryan's plan offers a pretty scary glimpse of the future if Republicans retain control of the House and take over the Senate this year, which remains our only safety valve protecting us from getting pushed over an economic cliff by these right-wing loons. Eighty years of progress could be rolled back in a blink of an eye if the Republicans gain a stranglehold on Congress, and we can now thank the Supreme Court for making such a scenario not only possible, but likely. Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts continues to operate under the delusion that free speech and money are the same thing, and that the broad right to "participate" in elections trumps the real threat to our democracy that will come from the influence peddling and corruption free-for-all that this decision will unleash.

Conservative Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon brought this case to the Supreme Court because he wanted to donate to 27 candidates in 2012, but was stopped by FEC spending caps. In winning the case, he has now opened the floodgates so that the maximum amount of $5,200 can be donated to every candidate running in every House and Senate race during an election cycle. The decision also raises the total amount that an individual can donate to as much as $5.9 million per cycle, according to an email alert I received from Public Citizen, including money given to PAC's and party committees. The aggregate limit is also ended, so there will be no such thing as "maxing out" on donations anymore. Chief Justice Roberts offered some fuzzy logic in his majority opinion when he wrote that "...limits do not act to prevent corruption or the appearance of corruption." In his dissent, Justice Steven Breyer -- a true liberal if ever there was one -- said that "the ruling and previous decision loosening contributions by corporations and unions eviscerated our nation's campaign finance laws." Clearly, Justice Breyer saw the quid pro quo connection, even if the willfully blind Justice Roberts did not.

Forbes recently updated its list of the world's billionaires, and it is no surprise that Charles and David Koch tied at number six, with each being worth over $40 billion this year, up $6 billion each from a year ago and a whopping $15 billion each from 2012. So it is easy to see the kind of money they can and will pump into this year's races. Indeed, the Kochs will likely spend close to $100 million to elect Republicans over the next two cycles, as will fellow billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who is number eight on the list. In 2012, total spending for federal elections, which included every open seat in Congress and the presidential election, was around $7 billion, according to the FEC -- an amount the Kochs could have covered themselves. And let's not forget the US Chamber of Commerce and the money they can throw into the GOP's coffers, as well as those 400 wealthiest families in the US. Last month, in just one fundraiser for House candidates, the National Republican Congressional Committee raised over $15 million.

Meanwhile, the Dems are hardly twiddling their thumbs when it comes to raising "da money." Heavyweights in the Democratic Party are also making the pitch to their base for donations through a flood of emails from the likes of former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, President Obama, Joe Biden and Bill Clinton, with the emphasis on saving and expanding the majority in the Senate. The Senate is where Supreme Court justices are confirmed, so holding and expanding those Democratic seats is critical. Liberal activist billionaires are also getting into the mix, pledging to raise and donate hundreds of millions to oppose conservative candidates. Liberal donors like Jonathan Soros -- George's son -- and Tom Steyer have both pledged to support Democrats through 2016 and beyond, with Steyer promising $50 million of his own money, while seeking an additional $50 million from other wealthy liberals.

The Founding Fathers feared money-driven corruption would eat away at our government, and we have seen throughout history that when there is rampant government corruption, the rich are also usually beating middle class and working class Americans into the ground, aided by watered-down regulations and lax enforcement. From the East India Company of England's heyday, to the Gilded Age and its notorious robber barons, to today's greedy, selfish 1 percent, throughout history the super-rich have spared no expense in manipulating governments to do their bidding. Today, we Americans must rise to this new challenge and demand change if we are to keep our country from falling back into the bad old days of Wild West-style capitalism run amok.

So how do we do that? The McCutcheon decision should be the tipping point, and we must now understand that we are indeed in a class war. We must rid our government of obstructionists who are in the pocket of the 1 percent and we must increase the numbers of true Progressives in both the Senate and House who will fight to pass an amendment to overturn McCutcheon and the Court's 2010 Citizens United decision and go to public funding of campaigns at every level of government. Democrats have a winning hand this election year if they can come together as a party and get behind these two bold initiatives. There is already considerable support in Congress among Democrats for public funding of campaigns, and now they must make it the issue at the forefront of their individual campaigns, and one of the core messages of the Democratic party this year and in 2016. That includes you, too, Mr. President, as the leader of your party and this country. Make the goal of cleaning up our government and returning it to the People part of your legacy.

There is plenty of work ahead.

"The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power." - President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Message to Congress on the Concentration of Economic Power, April 29, 1938

Original article on Huffington Post

Read 7434 times Last modified on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 17:01

ERA Articles

  • Take What is Yours, Ladies
    Take What is Yours, Ladies Sojourner Truth said “If women want rights more than they got, why don’t they just take them, and not be talking about it.” It looks like we will have to do just that. August 26th is Women’s Equality Day across our nation. Not so much for the women of North Carolina. 94 years ago in 1920, women won the right to vote after decades of fighting for the 19th Amendment. Women of color had to fight within the fight, and then fight on to realize that right in full.
    Written on Tuesday, 26 August 2014 16:33
  • ERA isn't Nostalgia in Nevada
    ERA isn't Nostalgia in Nevada CARSON CITY — Mention the Equal Rights Amendment today and it might bring back memories of the 1970s, from huge protest marches to ”ERA Yes” buttons. But the proposed constitutional amendment, which fell three states short of the 38 needed to win ratification by a 1979 deadline that Congress later extended to 1982, is not a relic in Nevada. An effort is underway to get the amendment ratified by the Nevada Legislature in 2015.
    Written on Tuesday, 19 August 2014 09:44
  • 90 years on, push for ERA ratification continues
    90 years on, push for ERA ratification continues

    Drafted by a suffragette in 1923, the Equal Rights Amendment has been stirring up controversy ever since. Many opponents considered it dead when a 10-year ratification push failed in 1982, yet its backers on Capitol Hill, in the Illinois statehouse and elsewhere are making clear this summer that the fight is far from over.

    Written on Monday, 11 August 2014 22:49
  • The Big Banging “F” Word and Millennials
    The Big Banging “F” Word and Millennials The week before last, near the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, a whole lot of the “F” word was thrown around at a rally. I heartily approve and you don’t know “F” if you don’t. This is where I’m supposed to reassure you that I’m not going all potty-mouthed to make a point and offer comfort that you’re not alone in your ignorance. Yes and no.
    Written on Friday, 08 August 2014 15:36
  • ERA Enters 2014 Gubernatorial Campaign

    Last week, State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) bulldozed the measure, Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 75, through the upper chamber 39-11-06, a vote that included two Republicans - Kirk Dillard and Minority Leader Christine Radogno.

    Written on Friday, 30 May 2014 16:03
  • Senate Democrats look to revive dormant Equal Rights Amendment
    Senate Democrats look to revive dormant Equal Rights Amendment

    SPRINGFIELD-Senate Democrats plan to make an end-of-session push this week to “rectify an historical wrong” -- and perhaps give women a strong reason to go to the polls this fall -- by putting Illinois on record in support of an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

    Written on Monday, 19 May 2014 23:16
  • Pilgrimage

    Each step I take brings me closer to fulfilling my promise to help pass the Equal Rights Amendment. It’s a promise I made a decade ago to my late mother-in-law, the Rev. Katrina Swanson. (Katrina was one of the “Philadelphia Eleven,” the first group of women to be ordained as priests in these modern times in the U.S., after the Anglican Church of China.) A promise made by my husband and me to her in her last year of life. A promise, indeed a vow, and now a dream moving to reality we will resurrect and see enacted the Equal Rights Amendment.

    Written on Friday, 25 April 2014 00:00
  • Congresswoman Speier: The Deadline for Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment Should be Removed
    Congresswoman Speier: The Deadline for Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment Should be Removed

    Congresswomen Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo/Redwood City) issued the following statement today after offering a joint resolution to remove the deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. The ERA was introduced into every Congress between 1923 and 1972, when it finally passed and was sent to the states for ratification upon three/fourths approval. Congresswoman Speier’s joint resolution has 109 original co-sponsors.

    Written on Friday, 28 March 2014 02:59
  • Group wants ERA ratified
    Group wants ERA ratified

    State Sen. Nina Turner said Saturday that she supports efforts to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment but noted that more work is ahead in reaching equality. The Cleveland-based Democrat was one of several political candidates in attendance during an event hosted by the Progressive Democrats of America at the Adena Mansion & Gardens Visitors Center, where Turner gave a fiery speech to a full crowd about the need to support such a change.

    Written on Monday, 24 March 2014 22:03
  • Progressive Democrats to kick off ERA ratification push in Chillicothe
    Progressive Democrats to kick off ERA ratification push in Chillicothe

    A group of Progressive Democrats plans to push for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment with an event here later this month. State Sen. Nina Turner, D-Cleveland, will be the keynote speaker. Turner is the minority whip in the Ohio Senate.

    The group, which also is conducting the event to defend voter rights, also will honor a local woman with an award at the event.

    Written on Wednesday, 12 March 2014 13:35
  • Lehigh Valley feminists waged campaign in schools, prison
    Lehigh Valley feminists waged campaign in schools, prison

    One of Mary Larkin's prized possessions is a beat-up, old, wooden cutting board in the shape of a mushroom, but you can't tell by looking at it that it is the product of a revolution.

    It was made by Larkin's daughter Debbie, who was one of the first girls to take shop in Parkland schools after the district relented in the mid-1970s to allow them to forgo home economics and do woodworking instead.

    Written on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 02:52
  • Will Virginia be the First State to Ratify Equal Rights Amendment in the 21st Century?
    Will Virginia be the First State to Ratify Equal Rights Amendment in the 21st Century?

    Today SJ 78, a bill to ratify the stalled Equal Rights Amendment, was placed on the docket of the Elections subcommittee in the Virginia House. Could this signal GOP support for Constitutional pay equity? Even in the 21st century corporations continue to pay women less because they are women. Last week we learned that General Motors offered their first female CEO a salary 50% less than her male predecessors (the usual female pay discount is only 8%).

    Written on Tuesday, 25 February 2014 01:00
  • Deadline Looms: ERA Ratification Assigned to Judiciary Committee in AZ Legislature
    Deadline Looms: ERA Ratification Assigned to Judiciary Committee in AZ Legislature

    Rep. Victoria Steele’s (D-9) bill to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (HCR2016) was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee late last week. (You’ll remember that mid-week, I reported it was languishing on the desk of House Speaker Andy Tobin.)

    Written on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 01:56
  • Uphill Battle: Rep. Victoria Steele Introduces Bill to Extend ERA Ratification Deadline
    Uphill Battle: Rep. Victoria Steele Introduces Bill to Extend ERA Ratification Deadline

    There is an ideological perfect storm brewing in the Arizona Legislature. A memorandum supporting extension of the ratification deadline for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) has been assigned to a committee where five out of seven members have pledged to protect and fight for the rights of fetuses over the rights of women.

    Written on Thursday, 13 February 2014 14:37
  • America the Beautiful is Not a Movie
    America the Beautiful is Not a Movie

    What I know about sports, I learned watching movies, but what I know about fair play and equality, I learned watching my parents.  Although movies Based on a true story, have evolved closer to reality since William Bendix played Babe Ruth, the brain damage of inequality requires more than A Hail Mary Pass at equal economic opportunity and Justice for All to tackle an Equal Rights Amendment fumbled by a deadline for ratification.

    Written on Monday, 10 February 2014 20:51
  • Alice Paul: Honoring The Birthday Of An American Heroine
    Alice Paul: Honoring The Birthday Of An American Heroine

    In November 2014, Americans will be heading to the polls to vote in the midterm elections.

    Women will be voting.

    If Alice Paul had not been alive to fight for that right, women still might not have the opportunity to make their voices heard in the United States of America.

    January 11, 1885 was the day this great American woman was born and it is on this day that everyone should take a moment to recognize and celebrate her brave and progressive life.

    Written on Sunday, 12 January 2014 00:11
  • Signature gathering drive underway for state equal-rights amendment
    Signature gathering drive underway for state equal-rights amendment

    People are out collecting signatures to get the Oregon’s Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) for women on the November 2014 ballot. This could mean a change to the state constitution to include language that specifically protects women.

    Oregon’s ERA for women has been out there several times before now, most recently before the legislative session in 2013, but it didn't pass.

    Written on Wednesday, 01 January 2014 22:30
  • ERA December Update
    ERA December Update

    Congratulations Rhode Island!
    Rhode Island is the first state to have 100% of their Federal delegation supporting our legislation. A special thanks to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Senator Jack Reed, Rep. David Cicilline and Rep. James Langevin. We appreciate your support.

    Written on Thursday, 12 December 2013 01:19
  • JFK'S Contribution to Women's Rights -- and What He Might Want Us to Do Next
    JFK'S Contribution to Women's Rights -- and What He Might Want Us to Do Next

    Just a few weeks before his death, on October 11, 1963, President Kennedy received the final report of the President's Commission on the Status of Women. A direct line runs between the work of this commission and the establishment of the National Organization for Women.

    Written on Saturday, 23 November 2013 21:02
  • Debate over Equal Rights Amendment

    If an Equal Rights Amendment were to pass, women would have the written support of the Constitution. Instead of women having to prove that they were being discriminated against, violators of the amendment would face a harsher reality, having to prove their innocence.

    The benefits of ratifying the amendment are fairly simple. By passing the Equal Rights Amendment, the government would not only open doors of opportunity for women in the country, but also open them all around the world.

    Written on Wednesday, 20 November 2013 02:58
  • Progressive Push - First Stop California
    Progressive Push - First Stop California

    UPDATE: Linda Sanchez and Louise Roybal-Allard are now cosponsors of HJ Res 43. As Progressives we should all be outraged that of the 15 members of the Progressive Caucus from California, there are 5 (3) who have not co-sponsored Representative Rob Andrews legislation, HJ Res 43, removing the deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Unacceptable. They are well aware of the legislation and we must alert them to this fact.

    Written on Thursday, 07 November 2013 00:00
  • The ERA and the NCGA 2013
    The ERA and the NCGA 2013

    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.

    Written on Tuesday, 05 November 2013 00:00
  • Senator Elizabeth Warren Signs On to SJ Res 15
    Senator Elizabeth Warren Signs On to SJ Res 15

    A Major Victory for ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) advocates happened today as Senator Elizabeth Warren becomes the 32nd co-sponsor on Senator Ben Cardin’s bi-partisan bill, SJRES15 to remove the deadline to ratify the ERA.

    Written on Thursday, 31 October 2013 16:47
  • Monday Vintage Demonstrations on Equal Rights Amendment
    Monday Vintage Demonstrations on Equal Rights Amendment

    In the spirit of Moral Mondays the Onslow County Democratic Party announced that this Monday’s demonstration on  October 28th  will focus on pushing back against the wave of legislation negatively impacting  women’s rights to include the targeting of their voting rights. Demonstrators are civilly rallying from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm outside the Jacksonville City Hall at 815 New Bridge Street to support the passage of an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) checking state laws that are eroding women’s rights.

    Written on Thursday, 24 October 2013 17:46
  • “Welcome to Ohio: Set Your Clocks Back 50 Years!”
    “Welcome to Ohio:  Set Your Clocks Back 50 Years!”

    “Seems like old times,” was former ODP chair, David Leland’s comment when we exchanged greetings at the Statehouse, October 2nd. Indeed it did. About 1000 enthusiastic women and men showed up for a rally entitled, “We Won’t Go Back: Stand Strong with Ohio’s Women!”

    Written on Thursday, 03 October 2013 13:49
  • Poverty, Hunger, Inequality, Violence: American Women Are Being Screwed
    Poverty, Hunger, Inequality, Violence: American Women Are Being Screwed

    Women earn less than men. Compared to white men, Latinas earn 59 cents for every dollar earned by a white man, black women earn 68 cents on the dollar, white women earn 81 cents on the dollar, and Asian women earn 88 cents on the dollar

    Written on Thursday, 29 August 2013 00:43
  • ERA 2013 Action Campaign Gains Momentum - White House Petition Passes 20,000 Signature Mark
    ERA 2013 Action Campaign Gains Momentum - White House Petition Passes 20,000 Signature Mark

    The new push to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) continues to grow as word spreads about the effort to get the Obama Administration to take a stand on the issue of equal rights for women. The ERA 2013 Action Campaign and its partner, ERA NOW, seek to gather 25,000 signatures on an official White House petition to trigger an official response from the Obama Administration, now needs only 4600 signatures by February 9th.

    Written on Tuesday, 05 February 2013 17:58

ERA Legislation in your State

Unratified states Gold - Ratified States Purple

Sign the ERA Petition


On Friday, September 12th more than 150 activists will go to DC and Demand that their Senators and Representatives support removing the ratification deadline from the ERA (SJ Res 15 and HJ Res 113)


Sign the Petition - Sen. Sanders Run as a Democrat in 2016


Sign the TPP Fast Track Petitions Petition - Congress Don't Renew Fast Track

Public Citizen Petition - Congress Must Reject Fast Track Authority Petition - Stop the Trans Pacific Partnership

CREDO Petition - Stop the Massive Corporate Power Grab


ERA 9/12 Senate Briefing

ERA - January 15th Round Table

Find Your Elected Officials

Enter your zip+4 and find your elected officials. This link provides name, address and phone number


Click on your state in the list to find out if your Senators and Representative are cosponsors of the Equal Rights Amendment. Then call and either Thank Them or ask them to support the legislation.

Sample scripts are below.

ERA Call Scripts

Thank You Script
I am a voter in your district and the Equal Rights Amendment is very important to me and all my friends. Thank you for supporting equal rights.

Request Support
I am a voter in your district and the Equal Rights Amendment is very important to me and all my friends. Equality is a human rights issue. The Equal Rights Amendment has been stalled and we believe removing the ratification deadline will most the process forward. Please cosponsor SJ Res 15 (for Senators) HJ Res 43 (for your Representative)

Writer a Letter to the Editor about the ERA

We need to add the Equal Rights Amendment to the National conversation. Use our tool to send a letter to the editor of your local paper.

  1. Enter your zip code to select a list of local papers
  2. Select the paper
  3. Use our talking points and/or write your own letter


Hand Deliver a Letter to your Senators or Representative

If your Senator(s) and/or Representative is not currently a supporter, they may not be aware that the legislation exists. Nothing sends a stronger message to a Congressional member than a personal visit to a district office by a voter with a written request for support. Phone calls and emails are incredibly important but nothing gets attention like a personal visit. Our Educate Congress page has information and a sample letter. Print the letter, sign it, deliver it.


Email Your Senators and Representatives

There is no faster way to send a message to your Congress members than using our Email Advocacy Tool.

  1. Enter your Zip +4
  2. Use our letter or feel free to edit and create your own


Like ERA Action on Facebook!

ERA Videos

VA State Legislature

Marena Groll
Moral Monday - Fayetteville

January 15th Progressive Round Table

Tea with Friends of Alice - Chillicothe, Ohio

  • Sen. Nina Turner and Cathy White
    Sen. Nina Turner and Cathy White
  • Queen Nester and Sen. Nina Turner
    Queen Nester and Sen. Nina Turner
  • Awardees
    Dr. Jean Kerney, Senator Nina Turner and Portia A. Boulger Awardees
  • Sen. Nina Turner and Cathy White
  • Queen Nester and Sen. Nina Turner
  • Awardees