The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was supposed to ensure equal rights between men and women though it has not been added to the Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees equal protection of the laws for all citizens regardless of gender. The initial indent of the Fourteenth Amendment was to provide formerly enslaved people with equal rights, and it specified the protection of males but not females. The first clause of this Amendment predetermines that no state “shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States” (Greenberg & Page, 2018, p. 434). The second part declares that no state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” (Greenberg & Page, 2018, p. 434). The third one is Equal Protection Clause specifying that states are expected to treat all persons equally. Comparing these Amendments is relevant since they share similar features, yet the topic is more sophisticated due to dealing with entirely separated concepts.
One may suppose that the Fourteenth Amendment was supposed to provide all citizens with equal rights without accounting for gender. Nevertheless, this Amendment could not be applied to protect women back in time. For instance, in 1874, in Minor versus Happersett, the Supreme Court determined that “women’s suffrage was not a right inherent in the national citizenship guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment” (Greenberg & Page, 2018, p. 469). Inequality of rights, lack of protection, and discrimination based on gender were the reasons for promoting the ERA.
The Constitution had not considered the gender a suspect classification such as national origin, religion, or race, and the ERA was proposed to indemnify those omissions. While the Fourteenth Amendment was focused on the inequalities related to race, the ERA was proposed to address sex disparities. However, Lapidus (2018) highlighted several cases that promoted gender equality and women’s protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. Sex discrimination was appealed to equate to discrimination “on the basis of race and other protected categories” (Lapidus, 2018, p. 149). According to Murphy (2019), appealing to that Amendment may be inefficient: the Supreme Court may not consider that Fourteenth Amendment specifies protection against gender discrimination. Overall, both Amendments promote equal civil rights for all American citizens. However, the Fourteenth Amendment’s initial intent was not designed to prohibit rights’ inequality related to sex and was not supposed to provide women with the same protections as men.
Greenberg, E. S., & Page, B. I. (2018). The Struggle for Democracy, 2018 Elections and Updates Edition (12th Edition). Pearson Education. Web.
Lapidus, L. M. (2018). Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the development of gender equality jurisprudence under the Fourteenth Amendment. Harbinger, 43(2), 149–154. Web.
Murphy, B. L. (2019). The Equal Rights Amendment revisited. Notre Dame Law Review, 94(2), 937–958. Web.