Three Republican state lawmakers yesterday asked the Washington Supreme Court to declare that the congressional extension of the deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment is unconstitutional.
The three, who say they hope to set off a national chain reaction, also asked the court to "retrieve" Washington's ratification resolution from the federal government.
"I don't believe in changing the rules in the middle of the game," said Rep. Dick Bond. "A deal's a deal."
"The deadline for ratification expired at midnight, and Washington's ratification expired," said state Rep.
Claude Oliver, before filing the lawsuit.
The original deadline for ratification of the proposed amendment was March 22, 1979. Congress voted last year, in an unprecedented move, to extend that deadline to June 30, 1982.
The ERA, which prohibits discrimination on the basis to sex, must be ratified by 38 states to become law. So far it has won approval in 36 stated. Four states -- Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska and Tennessee -- have rescinded their approval, although the Kentucky recision was vetoed by the acting governor. The South Dakota legislature voted earlies this year to declare its ratification null and void because of the expiration of the original ratification deadline.
The validity of the recisons is in doubt. The Justice Department has said it is up to Congress to decide.
The Spokane lawyer handling the case, Michael Farris, said the suit was not an attempt to rescind ratification.
"There is only HJR 208 [the congressional proposal to the states]. ERA is just a slang expression. we're just saying it has expired. It no longer exists."