BMUN XII – Special Committee

Question of amending the Equal Rights Amendment 1923, in 1970

 

December 13, 1923, Res. 75’s Proposition of: 

Article XX

  • “Men and Women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.”
  • “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

 

Link of Resolution 75: https://www.visitthecapitol.gov/exhibitions/artifact/hj-res-75-proposing-equal-rights-amendment-december-13-1923

 

How the Committee will work

Throughout the day, delegates representing pressure groups, lobbyists, congressmen, and other influential individuals will work together to propose amendments to the Equal Rights Amendment (initially written in 1923). The committee will be set in June of 1970 – just before the bill was introduced to Congress. Throughout the day, crises will occur and so delegates must work towards solving the crises as well as altering the ERA. Debate style will be the same as if debating an amendment for a resolution.The aim of the committee is not to pass and create a resolution, instead, it will be specifically improving the amendment which will then be voted on by members of the committee to send to introduce onto the floor either the House or Senate. Therefore, delegates will not need to write a resolution ahead of the time but instead should read the ERA and prepare an amendment in concordance with the views of the people and organisations they represent. Delegates representing people may use personal pronouns (such as ‘I’) whilst delegates representing organisations must use ‘we’. Throughout the day the Head Chair will allow lobbying sessions, in order for delegates to discuss amendments and further steps they wish to take.

Influential Individuals and organisations which will be represented:

  • Phyllis Schlafly
    • Born August 15, 1924, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.—died September 5, 2016, St. Louis
    • Bachelor’s degree in political science (1944) & then masters the next year
    • Activist that opposed the Women’s movement
    • Established STOP
  • President Richard M. Nixon (R) (1969-74)
    • In-office: January 20th, 1969- August 9, 1974
    • Political Party: Republican
    • Consider that Watergate scandal has not occurred yet but will be brought to light in 1972
  • National Organization for Women – NOW
    • Its aim was to bring women into ‘full participation in American society now, with all its privileges and responsibilities in truly equal partnership with men’.
    • Campaigned across the US
  • Stop Taking Our Privileges’ – STOP
    • STOP ERA’s major supporters were already supporters of Schlafly’s conservative group, Eagle Forum, and came from the right-wing of the Republican Party.
    • Christian conservatives also organized for STOP ERA and used their churches to provide meeting spaces for events and network with legislators who were valuable to the strategic approach of the movement.
    • STOP protested against the ratification of the ERA as they believed it would harm women instead of benefiting them.
  • Betty Friedan
    • Set-up the National Organisation for Women (NOW) as a woman’s civil rights group
    • Wrote a best-selling book ‘The Feminine Mystique’ that explored the lives of women she used to go to school with. The theme of dissatisfaction with just being a housewife was one of the main causes of the Women’s Rights Movement.
  • Gloria Steinem
    • She wrote ‘A Bunny’s Tale’ which was a personal account of her undercover work at the Playboy Club. The central message was her belief that the sexual revolution will fail if men are the only ones allowed to define it
    • Consider The first stand-off edition of the Ms. magazine will be released in 1972
  • Sherley Chrisholm
    • Became the first black woman elected to the US Congress in 1968
    • Consider that in 1971 she was a founding member of the National Women’s Political Caucus
  • Bella Abzug
    • American Lawyer, feminist, activist & a leader of the Women’s Movement
    • Consider that she later, in 1971, became the Representative Bella Abzup of New York. During this year she also joined leading feminists to found the National Women’s Political Caucus.
  • League of Women Voters
    • An organization for women, by women, to support women in their efforts to achieve the right vote and gain equality. Yet they didn’t support the ERA from (1923-1954) and had no position on the topic from 1954 to 1970
    • Consider that they continued having no position till 1972 and then supported it, which is continued in the present.
  • Representative Michigan Democrat Martha Griffiths.
    • Elected to the House of representatives in 1954 as the first woman elected to Congress from Michigan.
    • She was vitally involved in the inclusion of the prohibition of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act 1964
    • Consider that she filed the discharge petition to bring the Equal Rights Amendment out of committee on to House the floor
  • Senator Birch Bayh (drafted the Senate version)
    • Served as a Democrat in the U.S. Senate from Indiana (1963-1981).
    • Shortly after 1962, he became Chairman of the Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments, which had the role of authoring the Equal Rights Amendment.
  • Senator Sam Ervin
    • S. Senator from North Carolina (1954-74). He was a legal defender of the Jim Crow Laws & Racial Congregation, as South’s congregation expert on Congressional Civil Right Debates.
    • (When considering his perspective in 1970 it is important to note his actions after this point – he set an arbitrary limit on the ratification of the bill & introduced an amendment to exclude women from the bill)
  • Representative Emanuel Celler
    • Served as a Democrat in the House of Representatives from 1923-73, representing different districts within New York.
    • Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee
    • Consider that he lost his seat in 1972 to Elizabeth Holtzmen chiefly due to his opposition to Feminism and the Equal Rights Amendment
  • Alice Paul
    • American Socialist, suffragist, feminist and Women rights Activist.
    • The Equal Pay Amendment was authored and first introduced by her in 1923, and through her efforts was introduced into every Congressional Session from 1923-1960.
  • Senator Ted Kennedy
    • S. Senator from Massachusetts 1962 to 2009
    • Consider that he first Opposed the bill but later, like Robert Griffin, supported it (after edited by Senator Bayh)
  • Senator Robert P. Griffin
    • Republican Representative from Michigan from 1969 to 1977.
    • Consider that he first Opposed the bill but later, like Ted Kennedy, supported it (after edited by Senator Bayh)
  • Representative Gerald Ford
    • House Minority Leader from 1965-73. He was incredibly popular due to his inoffensive personality and fair leadership.
    • Consider became Vice President in 1973 with President Nixon and in 1974 succeeded Nixon as President.

 

Delegates should be further aware that

Since the committee is set in 1970, delegates must be careful when researching to make sure they research their position within the correct time frame. It is also advised for delegates to look into any important events which occur both between 1970 and 1972 (when the ERA was voted into Congress) as well as after 1972, as these events could aid the delegate in understanding the nature and intent of the person or organisation being represented. However, delegates must be clear about the order in which these events occur (to ensure they do not reference or assume an event after 1970 has already occurred.) Delegates must also research the history behind the ERA bill: why it was voted into congress for the first time in 1972; any future actions taken by states e.g. how can you change the ERA to ensure it fits with your views and is ratified?Finally, it is advised that delegates have an understanding of how the American political system works – how the ERA would be introduced onto the floor of congress and later implemented, if passed.