The Supreme Court yesterday indicated that it is seriously considering a proposal to overturn immediately a Dec. 23 lower court ruling that appeared to doom ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Late yesterday, the justices asked all the parties to the ERA ratification case to give their views by Wednesday on vacating the ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Marion Callister of Idaho. ERA supporters read the action as an encouraging hint that a significant number of justices are favorably disposed to the idea.
Callister declared Congress' extension of the deadline for ERA ratification unconstitutional and freed the states to rescind legislative votes ratifying the amendment. Since the ratification deadline is June 30, time is critical in the ERA case.
Government lawyers asked Thursday for immediate nullification without full arguments and without an opinion on the issues. It would be the quickest way of disposing of Callister's decision but would not address the legality of the extension or the rescissions.
Yesterday's request does not mean that the court will nullify the ruling, but National Organization for Women President Eleanor Smeal called it an "encouraging" development. Merrick Garland, speaking for House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Peter W. Rodino Jr. (D-N.J.), issued a statement calling it a "good sign."