Accuracy in Media

For some people, former President Donald Trump, or his administration, is the root of all current evil in the United States. Or, as we might put it, the reason progressives can’t have nice things. It’s even possible that this is true of some things, but it’s not true of everything — the Equal Rights Amendment is one of them.

This is where HuffPost steps over the line: “A Trump-Era Memo Is Blocking The Equal Rights Amendment From Being Ratified Today.” That’s not true. It’s a political complaint being made by some, that’s true, and anyone’s allowed to complain of anything they want in politics. Journalism, at least as traditionally understood, involves weighing such claims, not touting them.

“The Equal Rights Amendment, which ensures women have equal protection under the law, should become the 28th Amendment of the Constitution this week,” according to the piece.

That’s not true either. In fact, it’s actually written into the ERA itself that this isn’t true.

The ERA was passed by Congress and sent out to the States for ratification. That’s what’s supposed to happen with Constitutional amendments, that’s the way the system is set up. If three-quarters of the states then also pass it, then it becomes the law.

The current claim is that since the 38th state has just ratified it then it becomes law. Except that’s not the way that the ERA itself was written. Instead, it said that ratification must take place within 10 years or not at all. One the basis that having something hanging over the body politics wasn’t a wise idea – let’s decide and be done with it.

Then HuffPost’s claim: “But a memo from the Trump administration’s Department of Justice stands in the way.”

There is that insistence that it’s all Trump’s fault. When the memo didn’t in fact say that this was some new rule being made up by the evil Admin. Instead, it said, here in the ERA it says 10 years, that’s passed and gone, it’s over. The memo was a review of what the law was, not the making of a new one.

We can even prove this. The White House has just released a note on the issue which says this: “I am calling on Congress to act immediately to pass a resolution recognizing ratification of the ERA. As the recently published Office of Legal Counsel memorandum makes clear, there is nothing standing in Congress’s way from doing so.”

Sure, Congress can change the law if it wants to. But that does mean that without Congress changing the law then the ERA isn’t law today. Also, that a memo from the executive branch isn’t the reason that the ERA isn’t the law today. It’s because Congress set it up this way and it’s Congress that has the power to change it. Or not of course.

HuffPost is the No. 27 site in the rankings of news and media outlets, it gains near 70 million visits a month. It’s an important part of the media landscape that is. As such its readers deserve better information than this.

The ERA is not law today because Congress set it up that ratification must come within a decade. The failure of this to happen is nothing to do with President Trump nor any memo from his administration. Telling the people different is wrong and HuffPost shouldn’t be broadcasting purely party political claims claiming the contrary.




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