Hal Draper & Stephen F. Diamond

The Hidden History of the
Equal Rights Amendment

* * *

8. The E.R.A. Murder Case

By 1950 Congress was ready to adopt an equal rights amendment, as advocated by the platforms of both major parties. An E.R.A. was, in fact, passed by the upper house by overwhelming votes – not once but twice, in 1950 and 1953.

Both of these measures looking to an equal rights amendment were killed – by the proponents of the Pure E.R.A. Let us hasten to add: this statement is not an expose; the fact is uncontested, merely repressed and explained away.

Consider the following statement of fact: We could have had a useful equal rights amendment on the books over a quarter century ago, with a minimum of destructive effect on workingwomen and a maximum of benefit for all women; and by our time its implementation, however thorny, would have meant the elimination of a host of discriminatory laws and practices that still plague the status of women in our society.

The equal rights amendment that could have been adopted in 1950–1953, with a provision protecting workingwomen, was killed by a deliberate decision; and there is no question about who made that decision. It was made by the sponsors of the Pure E.R.A. – the sponsors in Congress, i.e., the central Republican leadership, captained by Senator Knowland, in concert with the sponsors outside, the businesswomen of the B.P.W. federation and the career-woman types of the National Woman’s Party. The decision to kill came because the Senate had added an amending provision that would have the effect of making concessions to the interests of laboring women.

While the events themselves will show this clearly enough, it is a good thing that it was explicitly stated on the floor of the Senate – twenty years later – by the then spokesman of the Pure E.R.A. forces. On January 28, 1971, the Pure amendment’s floor manager, Senator Birch Bayh, rose in the chamber to give an introductive speech in which he summarized the past history of the resolution. (In Congress the proposal for a constitutional amendment takes the form of a Joint Resolution, which then refers the issue to the states.)

Wishing to show that the amendment had already been extensively debated, Senator Bayh recalled that it had been passed by the Senate in 1950 and 1953 with an offending addition, which the Pure called the “Hayden rider,” i.e., an amendment proposed by Senator Hayden and adopted by the Senate. He related:

All supporters of the [Pure] amendment agreed that the rider effectively destroyed the intended result of the amendment .... For this reason in the 86th Congress, after the Hayden rider had again been added during the floor debate, sponsors of the bill agreed to recommit it to the committee, rather than have it enacted in that form. [Italics added.]

It is clear that, rather than put the E.R.A. through with the Hayden addition, the Pure forces preferred to kill any E.R.A. Bayh went on to make clear that the sponsors had done exactly the same thing in the year before this speech (1970), and he summed up:

However, when the operative language of the amendment was altered [in 1970] – by the very narrow vote of 36 to 33 – I agreed not to press for further floor action, in accordance with the advice of the women’s groups who supported this measure. Once again the amendment had been killed as a result of changes in language adopted on the floor. [Italics added.]

The use of the passive voice (“the amendment had been killed”) avoided mentioning at this point just who had done the killing. The speaker was naturally aware of the myth that had been assiduously repeated for decades: the myth that it was the pro-labor supporters of the Hayden modification who were out to kill any E.R.A. A frank statement of the facts behind the myth would have gone like this:

We, the proponents of the Pure E.R.A., are dismayed by your addition which adds a proviso protecting workingwomen (and therefore we have systematically adopted the dishonest claim that this addition is a “rider,” that is, an unrelated amendment grafted onto a bill purely as a legislative trick).

So you have killed our Pure E.R.A. for this session, and we shall therefore kill the E.R.A. that the Senate has adopted, by making sure it is buried in the House.

The principle is rule or ruin: better no equal rights amendment at all than one that protects the special labor legislation benefiting workingwomen.

Thus it was demonstrated that the two parties’ platform plank for “an equal rights amendment” had never been accepted by the Pure faction, but rather secretly regarded as a danger to be destroyed. It was also shown that the sponsors were for the Pure E.R.A. not in spite of its possible effects on workingwomen but only because of this aspect. There was a number of would-be E.R.A. compromisers, seeking an agreement between the camps, until they learned it the hard way. We will see compromise efforts, one of the last being made by Birch Bayh himself; and their fate will be instructive.

In the early 1950s the pro-E.R.A. sentiment in Washington seemed overwhelming. A woman lawyer wrote in the American Bar Association’s Journal that “it is considered fashionable on Capitol Hill to be for the amendment.” [1] It was backed not only by the party platforms but actively by the Women’s Divisions of both major parties. The top Republican leadership came out for the Pure E.R.A., as did the most conservative women members of both houses. In the Senate, Senator Margaret Chase Smith of Maine saw “protective legislation” for women as a personal insult, for (she explained) women were really stronger than men.

In 1950 the E.R.A. was floor-managed in the House by Representative Katharine St. George, the very model of the N.W.P. type of feminist since the days of Mrs. Belmont. As Colliers magazine admiringly described her at the time, she was an “arch-Republican from Tuxedo Park, New York, the ultra-smart stone-walled community created by the rich in the state’s 29th Congressional District ... Her background is strictly social register, Junior League, grand balls in the gay capitals of Europe.” [2] She had married into the First National Bank of New York, but eventually became interested in social affairs of a different sort. In Congress since 1946, this ornament of Republican conservatism was accustomed to attacking the Truman administration for “trying to socialize the U.S.” Needless to say, she insisted that “women neither need nor want protective legislation. They want to be free to work as equals, asking for no special privileges ...” [3] Who else was in such little need of more special privileges?

As if to complement the picture for future researchers in historical parables, there was another woman in the House in 1950: Helen Gahagan Douglas of California, a good Democratic liberal; later that same year she was going to be witchhunted out of an election victory by that firm supporter of the Pure E.R.A., Richard Nixon. Douglas announced on the floor, even though the matter had not yet come up in the lower chamber, that she would support only an E.R.A. modified by the Hayden amendment. The best-known proponent of this position was Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt.

In the Senate, the Pure E.R.A. forces gave management of the resolution to a conservative Democrat, Gillette of Iowa. The Senate Judiciary Committee, a citadel of sober-sided traditionalism, had reported it out favorably, as it always did before and after. Its vote was unanimous. Gillette introduced it into the Senate on January 19, 1950, with the sponsorship of 32 other senators.

The opposition to the Pure E.R.A. divided into two unequal camps. Senator Carl Hayden (Dem., Arizona) introduced his amendment to the resolution, to combine the liberal-labor objectors with some of the traditionalists. It provided that the new constitutional article “shall not be construed to impair any rights, benefits or exemptions now or hereafter conferred by law upon persons of the female sex.”

Hayden’s own argumentation strongly emphasized the views of the women’s organizations, trade unions, American Civil Liberties Union, etc. who opposed a Pure E.R.A. He offered his amendment, he said, as a means of taking the curse off the old proposal:

I offer this amendment because there can be no question that it is the deliberate intention of those who sponsor this change in the Constitution completely to eradicate from the statute books every law in every state which confers any right, benefit, or exemption to women which is not also available to men. [4]

The Senate debate provided no surprises, but we must survey the various strategies.

The Pure E.R.A. proponents offered a series of set speeches glowing with elocution in praise of justice, sex equality, human rights, and the virtues of womankind. Against these abstract declamations, the liberal wing spoke much of the concrete problems of particular sectors of the so-much-acclaimed ranks of womankind as affected by the Pure one-sentence blast.

The traditionalist speakers went easy on their underlying fears about the American Home and Family, and were even closer-mouthed on that unmentionable, the need to maintain male supremacy. They were most cogent when they concentrated on the juridical difficulties that the Pure E.R.A. would encounter. They demonstrated with considerable technical success that to try to excise sex prejudice and discrimination from the tangled body of American law and life by means of the Pure one-sentence was like trying to cut out a tumor with a meat cleaver. Whatever their own operative motivation, this limited argument meshed partway with the socio-economic demonstrations of the liberals, who were also showing that the meat cleaver could make deep gashes in the interests of workers.

As we saw earlier, the long-standing position of liberal and leftist women and of the labor movement was to oppose any constitutional amendment as unwise. This position of flat opposition to the E.R.A. route was retained by a group of the most liberal and prolabor senators, led by Herbert Lehman of New York, Estes Kefauver of Tennessee, and Wayne Morse of Oregon – three of the most consistent liberals who ever got themselves elected to the Senate. But this group did not confine itself to negation. Kefauver introduced a substitute proposal.

This substitute was effective in showing up the hypocrisy of most of the E.R.A.-feminism that was swamping over the Congress. It was a “Women’s Status” bill drawn up along the lines advocated by the National Conference on Labor Legislation held in Washington the previous December. It sought to remove “any remaining discriminations against women in the law” and elsewhere, and at the same time “to preserve provisions of labor legislation which have proved beneficial to working women” – to “establish a policy ... of non-discrimination on the basis of sex ... while at the same time safeguarding legislation of benefit to women ...” The bill declared “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 maternal function,” and would apply to state governments as well. It set up machinery to implement the goals by specific steps.

Here was a bill setting out in concrete legislative terms what equal rights could mean from the standpoint of the great majority of the female population. Remember, again, that this bill needed only a majority, not two-thirds, and did not need state ratification.

This Women’s Status bill was overwhelmingly defeated in the vote, 65–18. Though at this point it was offered as a substitute for the E.R.A., in later debates similar proposals were offered as independent alternatives; no matter. The proponents of Pure Justice for Women gave it short shrift, even though their orations about the Rights of Womankind would have seemed to require immediate adoption by acclamation. The reader is again asked to wonder why only the Pure E.R.A. aroused the enthusiastic approbation of defenders of the established status quo.

Kefauver’s presentation of the bill did stir one senator to make an immediate rebuttal that was of great interest. Kefauver had ended with a challenge to the Pure advocates with regard to the drafting of women in war. [E] Senator Cain of Washington state, then one of the most noted rightists in the capital, rose to make a point that dominated the New York Times account of the entire session.

“If and when there is a war in the future,” he said, “we are going to need, more than we have ever previously obtained, the services of every man, woman, and child, in the world of tomorrow.” The adoption of E.R.A., he argued, “would make available to our Government all the people of America without reference to sex.” His motivating concern was the organization of total war for the grand conflict, and to this end he cited the Red enemy as the model: “in the last war the Russians appeared to me to have had a far better comprehension and understanding of what total war really meant than all the other nations put together ...”

Cain let this argument out, but such considerations were usually as underground among the Pure E.R.A. supporters as the Male Supremacy issue was among the traditionalists. By the nature of the case, “you don’t talk about such things, you do them.” We have already remarked that both world wars gave feminism a decisive boost for similar considerations, leading to the acceptance of women’s suffrage after the First World War, and to the turn to E.R.A. after the Second.

The Senate debate on the E.R.A. itself was as blurred as experienced politicians could manage. [5] Gillette of Iowa, the Senate floor manager, tried to obscure the issues by claiming that all senators should vote for the resolution just in order to submit the issue to the states. Senator Margaret Chase Smith likewise endorsed the idea of (others) voting for the Senate resolution but opposing the E.R.A. in the states. She testified that the Pure E.R.A. was going to get the votes of some senators “though they do not believe in equal rights.”

Gillette’s statements on the meaning of the Pure amendment were guaranteed to puzzle a Supreme Court that might some day try to determine what Congress had in mind. The amendment, he said,

does not, as many suppose, deal with men or women. It deals with governments and the law made by governments ... It grants no new, as yet unheard-of rights ... This is most certainly a rigid limitation upon its applicability.

He made an attempt to confront Hayden’s amendment to the resolution. He did not bring himself to admit that the Pure amendment would, or even might, destroy labor legislation for women. He preferred to think that labor laws would be applied to men too; but what if ...? “The decision would be in the hands of each State.” The Pure advocates had always denied this leeway, but Gillette’s statements were so dim and dark that nothing he said meant much.

Senator Margaret Chase Smith, who was accustomed to speaking for all womankind, was more forthright: “I am in favor of the proposed equal rights amendment to the constitution for the very reason which causes some women to oppose it ... [For] when women demand equal rights with men they must give up their special feminine privileges ...” This was the straight, undiluted N.W.P. line.

The final outcome had much to do with the criss-crossing motivations and strategies – the uneasy alliance of the liberal pro-labor wing and the traditionalists, the confuse-the-cat strategy of the Republican managers of the debate, the split in the liberal wing itself, the tension between the doctrinaire rigidity of the N.W.P. line and the apprehensive flexibility of the Republicans, and so on. The Hayden amendment to the resolution won handily, no doubt because of its joint appeal to both the liberals and some traditionalists. The Haydenized E.R.A. was then adopted by a vote of 63 to 19, well beyond the required two-thirds. The party lineup was instructive: in the final tally, all Republicans answering voted yea; and of the 19 nays, all were Democrats, including Senator Lehman. We will come back to the question of various motivations behind the vote.

For the first time, an E.R.A. had been voted by a house of Congress. Out of the tangle of motivations had come a constitutional article that could be a landmark in the battle against legal sexism, even though the latter would not be abolished in one blow. What the Hayden E.R.A. could have meant was the historic establishment of a legal base line from which the continuing struggle for equality could proceed to strike blows against other bastions of sexism. (We will see that even the Pure E.R.A. could not do more than that in reality.)

All wings of the women’s movement, together with labor and civil rights advocates in general, could have worked together for important objectives, no longer split along social lines. One of the consequences of the Hayden E.R.A., as of the Pure thing, would be this: every court and administrative body would have to work on the presumption that sex discrimination was guilty until proved innocent.

All this without impairment of workingwomen’s conditions by destruction of labor legislation. And this was precisely why the Hayden E.R.A. had to be scuttled and killed – even though, as the New York Times reported, the great victory was publicly hailed by “jubilant” supporters of the E.R.A.

In view of the public “jubilation,” the Hayden E.R.A. had to be killed in the dark – mugged. How this was done, and by whom, is now part of the public record. But at the time there was no account given in the press (that we have been able to find) explaining to the “jubilant” public why the great victory over sexism disappeared from the halls of Congress after the historic Senate vote. Three years later (we find) a line in the Times mentioned that it had “died in the House Judiciary Committee” in 1950.

At the time, Alice Paul, the N.W.P.’s leader, hinted to the press what was to happen: “It is impossible to imagine the Constitution containing two such paragraphs” – that is, containing both the Pure statement and the Hayden addition; and she indicated that her strategy would be to get it through the House of Representatives in its original Pure form. But this raised the fear that, once the issue was before the House, it might be the Senate version that would win out. Before long, the N.W.P. turned its activists’ attention toward scuttling the whole thing for the nonce. The new E.R.A. was buried in the House committee through the exertions of the N.W.P.

This is the account given twenty-five years later by Alice Paul herself, in her Oral History memoirs. [6] The following points deserve mention first.

• As Alice Paul remembers it, the Hayden E.R.A. would have gone through swimmingly if it had not been hatcheted in the corridors by an N.W.P. emergency mobilization of forces to avert this danger.

... you know [related Paul in her memoirs], they nearly got it through in 1950, almost got it through ... Well, now, if it had gone through, it would have gone on to the states and probably been ratified, and here we would have had it in the Constitution, as a result of all these years of labor, inequality written in for women!

The “inequality” was constituted by the preservation of labor legislation for workingwomen. In 1950, among the things that Paul discovered to her horror was that the E.R.A. was not being stalled by the Congressional machinery; on the contrary, “a very active campaign was afoot to send it on to the states for ratification.” Now the N.W.P. faction was discommoded by the scam which Senator Gillette had used in the Senate, namely, the pretense that one’s position on the issue didn’t matter, but everyone should vote to send it on for the states’ decision.

The N.W.P.’s activist core, organized by Alice Paul herself, went into high gear to prevent this, by lining up the House leaders, especially the Republicans, to kill the resolution by asphyxiation. Paul’s memoirs exude pride as she recalls how effective this wrecking crew was.

• Alice Paul’s memoirs do not slander Senator Hayden, unlike some accounts that owed their venom to imagination. Paul testifies that Senator Hayden was a strong supporter of equal rights, one of the best. Says she (in her memoirs): “a very fine man, Mr. Hayden. Very, very, very friendly to the cause of women. And he was known, and famous almost, for the things that he did” for women employees of the Senate. He “just couldn’t possibly be ... more kindly and more concerned,” she adds, and again attests to his “complete good will and good intentions.”

• It is not digressive to mention another horrible discovery that Alice Paul made at this time: the discovery that the Washington representative of the B.P.W. itself, Marjory Temple, was actually in favor of the Hayden E.R.A. and was actively working for it. National leaders of the B.P.W. were hastily called to Washington to scotch this snake-in-the-grass. At the end of the session, a new president of the B.P.W. proceeded to fire Temple. But we never find out from Alice Paul’s recollections just how the B.P.W.’s most active worker for the E.R.A. could get enthusiastic about a measure which the Pure publicists’ mill later painted as simply a conspiracy against women’s rights.

The N.W.P.’s emergency mobilization in Washington to kill the Senate’s E.R.A. is documented in some detail, nowadays, in the organization’s microfilmed Papers presently deposited in libraries. The organization’s attitude quickly went through a first stage – the aforementioned jubilation over the adoption of the E.R.A. resolution even if Haydenized. A letter from the group’s Publicity Committee chair, addressed to leading party members, expressed this jubilation and belied the later line of invective against the same amendment:

This afternoon [wrote Florence Armstrong] the Senate passed the ERA ... [T]hus a long step forward has been taken in our effort to raise the status of women ... [T]he victory in the Senate is a glorious advance regardless of the harmful Hayden amendment. The nation is hearing from every radio commentator this evening about the ERA. Every paper will carry it. Everyone will now take it seriously. [7]

But more influential leaders of the N.W.P. were not carried away by the jubilation. With the doctrinaire rigidity of which Alice Paul was herself the incarnation, they counterposed a contrary line: the Haydenized E.R.A. was worse than nothing. This sentiment was expressed in a letter from the N.W.P. Congressional Committee’s co-chair, Emma Guffey Miller, addressed to the party chair: “I would rather have women remain as they are than suffer such an amendment [as Hayden’s].” [8]

The main enemy was identified: the labor movement. Miller’s letter stated that the Hayden addition “was backed by Secretary [of Labor] Tobin and Labor.” Another party activist wrote Alice Paul that “It goes without saying that UNION LABOR IS OUR REAL ENEMY IN ALL THIS.” (Capitals in original.) [9]

The N.W.P.’s and Tuxedo Park’s woman in Congress, Representative Katherine St. George, promised to push the Pure E.R.A., but she was not encouraging: her “hopes of getting the [Pure] amendment passed grow dimmer every day.” [10] As this alternative faded, the party leadership began discussion of a second course of action: writing a substitute for the Hayden amendment that would leave the Pure content unblemished. This would change the Hayden wording, following his “pattern but not his result.” One version of this course proposed the following substitute:

This article shall not be construed to impair any rights, benefits, exemptions, or protections conferred equally upon men and women, or any special consideration given to women on grounds of motherhood. [11]

Another version left out the “motherhood” exemption. Discussions of this possible course went on inside the N.W.P. for some months. At one point a number of Congressmen were approached with new wordings. But eventually the ultimatistic “all or nothing” approach won out.

N.W.P. activists were pressing the ultimatistic position on Alice Paul by March – for example:

I believe it would be better to go all out against the [Hayden] rider. Any attempt to meet opponents of your Amendment in a conciliatory spirit will be construed against you as an admission that, by the very nature of things, there must be a difference in laws applying to men and women. And this is wholly inconsistent with your position.

Another letter rejecting any “conciliatory spirit” argued that “we” would “lose our own self-respect” by compromising. [12]

Besides, St. George, who was trying to get 218 signatures to pry the amendment out of the Judiciary Committee and put it on the floor, was becoming more and more fearful that this course was dangerous: if the issue reached the floor, the same “rider” that had ridden through the Senate so easily might be attached again. Wouldn’t this risk the purity of the Pure amendment? As one party activist wrote to the party chair:

... we may be walking into a trap. If we get the 280 [sic] needed the amendment comes up for an immediate vote and could have the Hayden amendment put on and pass in twenty minutes. [13]

In March, Alice Paul herself decided to pull the rug from under the House discharge petition. “It seems to me dangerous for us to push the Petition any further,” she wrote. Success would mean that “the control of the Amendment passes out of our hands.” A House vote would be “premature,” i.e., the Pure amendment might lose. [14]

The final course decided on, then, was to keep the amendment buried in the House Judiciary Committee, naturally looking forward to the day when Congressional opinions would be changed. [15] And this is what was carried out, with a minimum of public notice. In her memoirs Alice Paul later recalled: “Both sides, Republican and Democrat, we worked just on them. And we did get enough of them to agree not to bring it up, and it wasn’t brought up. And that session came to an end.” [16] At the December 1950 meeting of the N.W.P. National Council, Anita Pollitzer, who had worked out the line with Alice Paul, introduced a motion to suppress any action on the amendment in this Congress, and this motion was passed unanimously. [17]

The E.R.A. was now dead for the next period, killed by the Pure at heart.

After this successful murder, the Pure faction spread the tale that it was the “Hayden rider” that did the killing. By this they merely meant that the Hayden amendment had “forced” them to kill the E.R.A. off.

But the tangled motivations already referred to were more tangled than that. It may be surmised, though not documented, that wise Senate operators may well have figured in advance that the Republican-cum-N.W.P./B.P.W. alliance would kill an amended E.R.A. A different coil of the tangle involves, perhaps, Senator Kefauver, who voted with the majority for E.R.A. in the final ballot, whereas Senator Lehman voted nay (though three years later, incidentally, he followed Kefauver’s course). For this wing of the liberal Democrats, the sponsors of the Women’s Status bill, the Hayden E.R.A. was simply a lesser evil, acceptable because it averted the greater evil of the Pure amendment. On the other side, a somewhat analogous lesser-evil attitude probably characterized some of the traditionalists who wound up voting with the majority. And to this tangle, add the outright opponents of women’s rights who voted for the Pure E.R.A. or any E.R.A. on the ground that Gillette had suggested, i.e., the slippery ground that Congress’ vote on a constitutional amendment is only a decision to submit the issue to the states.

But all these tangled ratiocinations, machinations and maneuvers are the common small-change of Washington politics. As laws emerge (somehow) out of the raveled welter of political infighting and compromise, it is the more or less objective meaning of the laws that eventually dominates. What the Hayden E.R.A. would have meant for the women’s rights movement would have been independent of whatever went on inside Hayden’s skull or any other’s. In American politics the best example of this truth came later, when in 1964 Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was amended to include sex along with race – mainly as a ploy by the Southern racists to get the act defeated. Title VII, which subsequently played much of the role that an E.R.A. would have done, and which became the most powerful weapon against legal sexism, owes its existence on the books to the foulest of political motives. (We will come back to this in the next chapter.)

The N.W.P. fable, endlessly repeated by the E.R.A.-feminists, runs up against some objective facts, even on the lowest level, i.e., personal motivations. One we have already seen: Alice Paul’s emphatic endorsement of Senator Hayden’s bona fides. Another is this: the list of senators who sponsored the Pure amendment, that is, the thirty-odd who joined Gillette of Iowa in presenting the resolution to the Senate, surely did not consist in their majority of duplicitous conspirators scheming to sully the Purity of the amendment with a “rider.” But we must report that after the discussion, only about a half of these senators voted against the Hayden addition. Only half of the sponsors themselves!

Anyway, it was only Hayden who was able to get an E.R.A. through. This point was strongly made by Hayden himself when the whole scenario was replayed in 1953.

In the 1953 Congress, the Republican Party was even more openly in charge of the E.R.A. operation. The manager of the resolution was Butler of Maryland, a Republican; the sponsor list this time was overwhelmingly Republican; and the guiding spirit hovering over it was the GOP’s Senate leader, William F. Knowland, who was regarded as a reactionary even by some conservatives. Knowland had been hailed at that year’s National Woman’s Party convention when it was announced that he would throw his influence behind their E.R.A. and get it through the upper house. With Knowland around, the N.W.P. did not have to flaunt its alliance with the National Association of Manufacturers.

Knowland was as good as his word, and on July 16, 1953 the Pure E.R.A. was taken up by the Senate, as Congresswoman Katherine St. George again stood by in the House awaiting its passage. Hayden continued the replay by reintroducing his amendment. On the Senate floor he emphatically made the challenging statement that the E.R.A. could be adopted only with his amendment. The swing vote in 1950, he argued, was cast by senators “who would not have voted for the original amendment, but who did vote for the equal rights proposal after it had been amended.” There could be little doubt about the accuracy of this statement.

A question was thrown to Hayden from the floor: “Are we to understand the object of the amendment of the Senator from Arizona is to make clear that the laws passed for the benefit of women would not be denied them because of the equal rights amendment, if adopted?” Hayden replied with an emphatic yes, specifying the interest of “laboring women throughout the Nation” in their state laws.

The importance of this exchange, and others like it, has little to do with individuals’ motives or psychiatric analyses. Rather, it forms part of the legislative record, which will later be examined by the courts to help fix the juridical meaning of the law as passed. (This is another reason why the Pure habit of ascribing sinister conspiratorial motives to the “Hayden rider” is not a serious analysis, however useful as a propaganda fable.)

On the other hand, the Pure amendment’s floor manager, Senator Butler, provided a different sort of material for future judicial interpretations. He provided evidence that the aim of the Pure amendment was to wipe out such laws as “a minimum wage law for women.” Here is the passage which might settle the question for a Supreme Court opinion:

I had great hope that with the adoption of the Fourteenth and Nineteenth amendments the United States Supreme Court would follow up its earlier decision and remove the existing discrimination against women [he means for women’s interests], but in The West Coast Hotel Co. case (300 U.S. 379), a minimum wage law for women was upheld, whereas a similar statute in the District of Columbia had been declared to be unconstitutional as contravening the right of contract. So ... there is a sharp division of opinion in the Supreme Court of the U.S. which points up the necessity of a constitutional amendment if the problem is to be adequately solved. [18]

This was a binding statement about just why an E.R.A. was a “necessity” that would not be heard in the welter of E.R.A. propaganda. According to the E.R.A.’s floor manager, the amendment was a necessity in order to “remove” laws like the minimum wage law.

At this 1953 session, the liberal Democrat faction introduced a Women’s Status bill not as a substitute to the E.R.A. but as an independent measure. Unlike 1950, the sponsors of the Pure amendment had to figure out how on earth they could vote against it, after their own orations about women’s rights; but vote against it they did. This bill had teeth.

At this session, Senator Lehman spoke strongly in favor of the Hayden E.R.A. He had an impact. Senator Langer of Wisconsin, one of the resolution’s sponsors, chairman of the Judiciary Committee that had reported it in, openly wavered on the floor. Langer, who had some reputation as a Republican maverick, said he was thinking of moving recommitment so that an amendment could be drafted to cover the objections made by Lehman, objections that reflected the most consistent liberal-labor position. Lehman assured him he would welcome this. But floor manager Butler jumped up to remonstrate, the whip hissed through the air, and immediately Langer withdrew his suggestions, in so many words giving as his reason Butler’s intransigence.

The Republican command had scotched another effort to reconcile E.R.A. aims with labor interests. But their repression worked only on their own ranks. The outcome was a repetition of 1950. The Hayden addition was passed by 58 to 25. Once again, out of the Republican-weighted list of sponsoring senators only about a half voted against the Hayden formula. In the final vote on the E.R.A. as amended, the measure was carried by the much-increased majority of 73 to 11.

No matter; the E.R.A. was once again murdered anyway, buried in the House in the same way as before, by the decision of the Republican leadership in alliance with the B.P.W. businesswomen and the N.W.P.-type feminists.

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E. The Women’s Status bill left this vexed question open for separate determination. Whatever one’s views on women and the draft, why should the legal enforcement of (say) the Equal Pay principle have to depend on first convincing the populace that women should carry guns for the state? The Pure feminists often give their views an ultimatistic thrust – by insisting, for example, that every possible symbol of women’s inferiority must be overthrown in one fell swoop – and this often appears to be very “radical.” It is only a sectarian mind-set; it is the rhetorical side of the career woman’s valuation of social-status symbols over lower-class working conditions. Leading proponents of the Pure E.R.A. often reduced their case to the “symbol” argument alone, as we will see below.

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1. Ethel E. Murrell, article in the American Bar Association Journal, January 1952.

2. Colliers, August 19, 1950.

3. The quotation from Rep. St. George is from the Journal of the American Association of University Women, May 1952.

4. Congressional Record, January 25, 1950, p. 868.

5. See Congressional Record for January 23 and 25, 1950.

6. Alice Paul, Conversations with Alice Paul ..., op. cit. (2: n.10). The next excerpt from the memoirs is on page 518.

7. Letter, Florence Armstrong to N.W.P. Officers, National Council Members, and Committee Chairmen, January 25, 1950; in N.W.P. Papers, Reel no. 96.

8. Letter, Emma Guffey Miller to Dr. Agnes Wells, February 22, 1950, ibid.

9. Letter, Marjorie Longwell to Alice Paul, February 2, 1950, ibid.

10. Letter, Katherine St. George to Mrs. George T. Vickers, January 31, 1950, ibid.

11. Letter, Anita Pollitzer to a “friend,” February 26, 1950, ibid.

12. Letters to Alice Paul: by Olive Lacy, March 15, 1950, and by Jane Norman Smith, March 27, 1950, ibid.

13. Letter, Elizabeth Forbes to Agnes Wells, March 18, 1950, ibid.

14. Letter, Alice Paul to Anita Pollitzer, March 12, 1950, ibid.

15. In this connection, for example, see the letter, Anita Pollitzer to “Ernestine,” March 9, 1950, ibid.

16. Conversations with Alice Paul ..., op. cit. (2: n.10), p. 518.

17. Minutes of National Council Meeting, December 10, 1950, N.W.P. Papers, Reel no. 115.

18. Congressional Record, July 16, 1953, p. 8955.

Last updated on 12 September 2020