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of women represented in hearings before the committee have expressed a sincere desire to waive the so-called preferential benefits now accorded to women by various laws so as to permit them to follow economic activities from which they are now excluded."

It would not be feasible to attempt to enumerate the wide variety of laws and rules of the common law which would fall under the impact of the amendment. Some conception of their scope may, however, be given by recalling the variety of relationships in which women stand in the community. These relationships may be summarized as (a) wage earner; (b) member of a family ; (c) citizen ; (d) individual. The law has recognized and attempted to deal with these relationships in a concrete way. Doubtless there are difficulties and anachronisms in the law which should be remedied. But the method adopted by the amendment is to ignore the basis for all that has been at the foundation of these measures, and to substitute an abstract rule of thumb. The practical effect of such a course can be suggested by referring briefly to each of the four categories mentioned above.

(a) As wage earners: One of the most familiar forms of legislation is that which confers special protection on women in industry, through the prohibition of employment in hazardous occupations and through regulation of night work and maximum hours of labor. Presumably the long struggle to place these protective measures on the statute books would be set at naught by the adoption of the amendment. Specifically, such statutes would apparently have to be held invalid as denying to women the equal right to work or as denying to men the equal right of protection under the law, for, it is to be noted, the amendment requires equality of rights under the law, permitting either men or women to claiin exact equality. How the problem would be met can only be left to conjecture. If a State legislature failed to revise the laws giving special protection to women in certain industries, it is left uncertain whether the entire pattern of industrial legislation would be torn apart by judicial decision or whether a court would undertake to legislate by raising the same protection for men. Surely the work of generations ought not to be left to this blind hazard.

(6) As me! of the family: Legislation in the latter part of the nineteenth century and early part of the twentieth century, commonly known as married women's acts, fairly universally, in this country, removed the disabilities which the common law had placed upon married women with respect to the right to sue and be sued, the right to own separate property, and the right to engage in commercial transactions. It is true that in some States certain remnants of these disabilities have persisted. In a few States, for example, a married woman may not become a surety for her husband's debt on the theory that she might otherwise be imposed upon; if the reason which has led some States to retain this disability is not a sufficient one, the disability should, of course, be removed by further legislation.

Similarly, in a few States a married women's earnings, while belonging to her if they result from work outside the home, are held to inure to the husband if they are produced by working inside the home. Whether this is a fair adjustment in view of the husband's primary duty to support the family may be a fairly debatable question, which again can be resolved by further legislation if further reform is thought desirable. The proposed amendment would leave no room for legislative experiment along these lines, but would impose a requirement of absolute equality in the property rights of husband and wife.

More seriously, it would presumably abolish the common rule whereby a husband has the primary duty of support toward his family, and whereby in many jurisdictions failure to render such support is a ground for separation or divorce. Precisely how the law of support is to be transformed as a result of the amendment is by no means clear. The concept of a primary duty does not lend itself to a rule of equality.

The very least that can be said is that the complex and delicate field of marital relationships and divorce, into which Congress has sedulously declined to enter in the past, would now be gravely affected by the tangential force of a constitutional amendment, which would not even rest on a study of the manifold problems involved.

It is worthy of note that the community-property systems of eight Western States, which have evolved differently from the common-law systems and which, in general, have recognized for a longer period the coordinate status of husband and wife, nevertheless contain inequalities which would doubtless be rendered invalid under the amendment. Thus the husband is generally regarded as a kind of managing partner with special powers not possessed by the wife in respect of community property. Legislation would doubtless be required to produce conformity with the dictates of the amendment, and the ramifications of such legislation, particularly with respect to the special tax status of persons owning community property, cannot be predicted with certainty.

(c) As citizens: While the suffrage amendment and other legislation have generally guaranteed to women an equality of civil and political rights, there remain som gaps which it is undoubtedly one purpose of the amendment to close. One of these is the distinction drawn in some States between the obligation of men and that of women for jury service. But whether the amendment would in fact require a change in this field is itself uncertain, since it is fairly arguable that jury service is not a right but a duty and hence not within the scope of the amendment. Indeed, the amendment opens up a whole field of potential controversy turning on distinction between rights and duties.

(d) As individuals: A common legislative difference in the treatment of men and women concerns the age of majority, which is generally lower for the latter. This difference has long been accepted as reflecting physical realities. Presumably the distinction would no longer be valid. But if a legislature failed to change the law, the outcome would present something of a legal puzzle. If the age of majority for men is 18 and women 16, it can hardly be foretold whether equality would require a lowering of the former or a raising of the latter. If the standard be that of the greater right, it could be asserted that the lower age for women provides a greater right to marry but at the same time a more restricted right to annul on the ground of minority. How a court would solve the conundrum is, like most problems created by the proposed amendment, a matter purely of speculation.

The basic fallacy in the proposed amendment is that it attempts to deal with complicated and highly concrete problems arising out of a diversity of human relationships in terms of a single and simple abstraction. This abstraction is undoubtedly a worthy ideal for mobilizing legislative forces in order to remedy particular deficiencies in the law. But as a constitutional standard, it is hopelessly inept. That the proposed equal-rights amendment would open up an era of regrettable consequences for the legal status of women in this country is highly probable. That it would open up a period of extreme confusion in constitutional law is a certainty.


Professor of Law, Harvard Law School. Among the views expressed on the so-called equal-rights amendment, the following are of special interest :

Joseph P. Chamberlain, professor of law, Columbia University Law School: “The passage of the amendment will create uncertainty and confusion in the wide fields of the law of property, of personal status, of marriage. It may destroy all labor legislation protecting women. Existing evils can and should be met by legislation aimed to cure them, such as the equal pay bill now before Congress. This proposal is a leap in the dark and has no place in the Constitution."

Silas H. Strawn, former president of the American Bar Association : "The amendment would inevitably invalidate many of the State laws protecting the American home and which protect women in industry."

E. Blythe Stason, dean of the University of Michigan Law School: "Physiological facts create the absolute necessity of numerous instances of differentiation in the law between the sexes affording protection for women not required for men. The proposed amendment would certainly throw the bulk of such legislation now on the statute books into a state of confusion and uncertainty, if it did not, in fact, result in complete elimination of such legislation from the statute books."

Judge William H. Holly, United States District Court, Chicago: "If the proposed equal-rights amendment to our Federal Constitution should be given the interpretation of which it seems capable, it would destroy the work of the years that have been given to secure the passage of the laws for the protection of women in industry. I fear that back of those who are openly advocating the amendment are the interests which desire to be rid of those laws."

Thurman Arnold, former associate justice of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia : "I am opposed to the so-called equal-rights amendment to the Constitution. There is no necessity for a constitutional amendment on this subject. The proposed amendment would confuse existing law to an intolerable extent and lead to endless litigation."

Judge Marion J. Harron, Tax Court of the United States: “If adopted, the socalled equal-rights amendment will cause chaos in 48 States in the status of all laws relating to women. It will wipe out many laws which have established standards for the employment of women in industry.”

The following organizations oppose the equal-rights amendment: American Association of University Women. American Civil Liberties Union. Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, American Communications Association. American Federation of Hosiery Workers. American Federation of Labor. American Federation of Teachers. American Federation of Women's Auxiliaries of Labor. Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders and Helpers Union. Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen. Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen. Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express and

Station Employees. Congress of Industrial Organizations. Congress of Women's Auxiliaries of the CIO. Food, Tobacco, Agricultural and Allied Workers Union of America. Girls' Friendly Society of the United States. Glass Bottle Blowers Association of the United States and Canada. International Coordinating Committee UAW Auxiliary. Internation Ladies' Garment Workers Union. International Union United Automobile, Aircraft, Agricultural Implement Work

ers of America, CIO.
League of Women Shoppers, Inc.
National Citizens Political Action Committee.
National Consumers League.
National Council of Catholic Women.
National Council of Jewish Women.
National Council of Negro Women.
National Farmers Union.
National Federation of Post Office Clerks.
National Federation of Settlements, Inc.
National League of Women Voters.
National Maritime Union, Women's Auxiliary.
National Women's Trade Union League of America.
Service Star Legion, Inc.
State, County, and Municipal Workers of America.
The National Board of the Young Women's Christian Associations of the United

States of America.
Union for Democratic Action.
United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, CIO.
United Federal Workers of America, CIO.
United Hatters, Cap and Military Workers International Union.
United Office and Professional Workers of America, CIO.
United Packinghouse Workers of America.
United Rubber Workers of America, CIO.
United Steel Workers of America.
Women's National Homeopathic Medical Fraternity.


132 Third Street SE., Washington, D. C.

These lawyers and legal scholars say: "We favor immediate revision of legal codes to eliminate discrimination against women as soon as the basic facts which will support such legislative action can be reported by the Commission. We believe the women's status bill to embody the soundest and most workable program yet presented for securing full statutory recognition of the proper legal status of women." Joseph P. Chamberlain, professor of law, Columbia University Law School, Harriet S. Daggett, professor of law, Louisiana State University Law School. Thomas H. Eliot, lawyer, Boston, Mass.

Walter Frank, lawyer, New York City.
Paul Freund, professor of law, Harvard University Law School.
Ralph F. Fuchs, professor of law, Indiana University Law School.
Lloyd K. Garrison, lawyer, New York.
Walter Gellhorn, professor of law, Columbia University Law School,
Leon Green, dean of the law school, Northwestern University Law School.
Charles Gregory, professor of law, Chicago University Law School.
Earl G. Harrison, dean of the law school, University of Pennsylvania.
Paul N. Hebert, dean of the law school, Louisiana State University.
Louis Jaffe, professor of law, Buffalo University Law School.
Dorothy Kenyon, lawyer and former judge of municipal court, New York City.
Monte Lemann, lawyer, New Orleans.
William Draper Lewis, dean emeritus, University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Douglass B. Maggs, professor of law, Duke University Law School.
Robert E. Mathews, professor of law, Ohio State University Law School,
Clarence Morris, professor of law, Texas University Law School.
Bertram F. Willcox, professor of law, Cornell University Law School.
W. Willard Wirtz, professor of law, Northwestern University Law School.
The Honorable James H. Wolfe, justice, Supreme Court of Utah, Salt Lake City.
N. Ruth Wood, lawyer, St. Louis.

The writers of this letter, attorneys and instructors of law, are among those endorsing the new women's status bill, introduced into the present Congress. This bill provides for an authoritative study of the proper status of women in our contemporary society and an expert evaluation of present laws in the light of the conclusions reached. It offers a practical, realistic program on which all citizens can unite to achieve statutory recognition of that status by eliminating remaining legal discriminations against women. It should serve to break the deadlock over the so-called equal rights amendment which, for 25 years, has divided women leaders into two camps, and has hampered or delayed the achievement of their common aim-the effective removal of discriminations against women in laws and administrative practices.

The women's status bill was introduced in the House by Representative Wadsworth. Other sponsors were Representatives Celler, Douglas, Kefauver, Earl Lewis, Norton, and Rogers. Senator Robert A. Taft introduced it as a joint resolution in the Senate. It is worthy of mention that the bill not only has bipartisan backing, but is supported by all the women members of Congress.

A brief description and comparison of its provisions with the equal rights amendment should persuade every sincere opponent of unfair sex discrimination that the women's status bill deserves his strong support.

The bill declares that it is the policy of the Federal Government to abolish distinctions based on sex in Federal law and its administration, except such as are reasonably justified by differences in physical structure or biological or social function. This language is designed to avoid the principal defect of the equal rights amendment which would eliminate all distinctions in legal treatment of men and women, even where their fundamental reasonableness and common sense is apparent. The new proposal adopts a legislative rather than a constitutional method of attack upon unfair discriminations which persist in our laws. It reaches discriminations which are not presently outlawed under the fifth and fourteenth amendments of the United States Constitution or by State constitutions, and would not be outlawed under the so-called equal rights amendment. The exclusion of women from juries, for example, does not involve a right which can be attacked under existing amendments to the Constitution, or the provisions of the proposed amendment. The enactment of the women's status bill, however, would open the door to legislative action with respect to such matters.

The bill requires the agencies of the Federal Government to review their regulations and practices in the light of the new declaration of policy and, so far as existing law permits, to revise or modify them accordingly. Each agency is obliged to report its action to a Presidential Commission, established by the bill.

This Commission would have the duty of studying and reporting on all phases of the legal, economic and social status of women in the United States today. It would review and evaluate all of the significant differences in the legal treatment of the sexes in this country, and determine which are discriminatory, in the light of the declared policy. It would report its conclusions and recommendations to the President. The President, in turn, would transmit the report to Congress with his recommendations for further legislative or other action.

Another major provision of the bill is a recommendation that the several States declare a policy similar to that of the Congress of the United States, and review their own laws and practices with a view to revision and change. The report of the Commission would serve as a factual basis for the revision of State codes, and as an economic and social brief for action.

The creation of a fact-finding Commission is one of the outstanding features of this bill. It is generally recognized that most of the statutes which deny full legal status and recognition to women were enacted many generations ago, in response to social needs and cultural patterns which differed widely from today. Their revision has not kept pace with social and economic changes. Some of these laws which treat the sexes differently may still embody what we regard as socially desirable provisions. Others are antiquated and should be repealed. The separation of those still useful from those antiquated or actually harmful is a selective process which can only be done conscientiously on the basis of the factual considerations underlying each law. What this bill really proposes is a fundamental review and revision of Federal and State codes to assure that laws which treat men and women differently are neither unreasonable nor inequitable to either sex.

Some may be under the impression that the facts on which informed legislative action should be based are already known; that therefore no Commission study is necessary. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Review of the congressional hearings on the equal-rights amendment reveals little consideration as to whether specific laws, treating men and women differently, are good or bad. Although lists of such laws have been maintained by the supporters of the amendment and the Women's Bureau, no expert and authoritative study has ever been made to evaluate them in regard to their reasonableness and social utility. The Commission established by the bill will be equipped to make findings of facts and informed judgments which will furnish the basis for well-considered legislation action.

This statement would be incomplete without a brief review of the reasons why the equal-rights amendment has been steadily opposed by many women's organizations, by labor organizations, and by leading lawyers since its first introduction in 1923 :

(1) The terms employed by the amendment have no precise legal meaning. The real significance and effect of the amendment will not be known until the Supreme Court has interpreted equality and rights in cases appealed to it. The years spent waiting for such Supreme Court action might be better utilized in a direct legislative attack upon known and specific evils.

(2) If passed, such an amendment would furnish a strong legal basis for an attack upon the validity of protective labor legislation for women. The importance of this is indicated by the fact that some, though not all, of the sup porters of the amendment state that they oppose minimum-wage laws for women and similar legislation and would utilize the amendment to have them declared unconstitutional.

(3) It would throw into confusion many property laws and laws applicable to family relations, including provision for the support of children, which frequently treat men and women differently for sound and socially justifiable reasons.

(4) Even if the equal rights amendment is passed by Congress, it would probably suffer the same fate as the child-labor amendment. The required threequarters of the States will not ratify it when they realize that the Nation-wide rule of uniformity it imposes will not only disrupt laws and customs which have become well established and accepted in their States, but will also deny to their legislatures any opportunity, now or in the future, to accommodate their laws to local conditions and experience which make distinctions drawn on sex lines wise and desirable for men and women alike.

(5) Amending the Federal Constitution is not necessary. Contrary to the views of some women attorneys who support the amendment, women are clearly persons in the constitutional sense, protected from arbitrary and capricious classification by the fifth and fourteenth amendments.

(6) Even if the amendment is ratified, it will not be self-executing State legislatures will find it necessary to revise their laws to make them conform with the amendment. Thus, in view of the length of time requirred for State ratification and subsequent code revision, passage of the amendment by Congress would actually hinder and delay rather than hasten the legislative review necessary in any event.

We favor immediate revision of legal codes to eliminate discrimination against women as soon as the basic facts which will support legislative action can be

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