History

When the Constitution was written over 230 years ago, it was written by men, for men – and particularly white men with property. Women, poor White people, African Americans, and American Indians were all intentionally left out, as none of the aforementioned people had any power or status in the early days of our country.

But fortunately, the founders created a way for changes or additions to be made over time – and they gave Congress sole power to make those changes.

Over the years, the Constitution has been amended 27 times to include things the founders didn’t, including much about individual citizen’s rights.

The first 10 amendments — known as The Bill of Rights — were adopted specifically to prevent governmental overreach and intrusion into individual citizens’ lives. Religious freedom, freedom of the press, the right to bear arms, specific legal rights, and state rights are all included within.

After the Civil War, three more amendments were added to clarify the status of African Americans. The 13th Amendment freed the slaves, the 14th Amendment made Black males citizens, and the 15th Amendment gave all male citizens the right to vote, regardless of race.

It wasn’t until the 19th Amendment was adopted, 130 years after the constitution was written, that White women were recognized. Other than a few words, Section 1 of the ERA is identical to the 19th amendment. Read it below, along with Sections 2 and 3 of the ERA.

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

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