LETTERs in support of the equal rights amendment

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past az state bar presidents


TO:            Honorable Karen Fann, President of the Senate

                   Honorable Rusty Bowers, Speaker of the House

                   Arizona State Capitol

                   1700 W. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85007


FROM:     The Undersigned Past Presidents of the State Bar of Arizona


RE:            The Equal Rights Amendment


DATE:       February 25, 2019


Dear President and Speaker,


We write on behalf of former Presidents of the State Bar of Arizona. We ask the Arizona legislature to become the one missing state needed to ratify and secure Constitutional status for the Equal Rights Amendment. If ratified by our legislature, the ERA would finally become part of the Constitution and confirm that women need and merit the protection afforded under our nation’s highest law, a Constitutional guarantee that their rights to equality and fairness are no longer subject to the vicissitudes of state and federal lawmakers.


Six significant events prompt our request. First, SCR1006 and SCR1009, that seek ERA ratification, have been introduced with bipartisan support and 17 signatures in the Arizona Senate, while HCR2030 has been introduced in the House, also with bipartisan support and 33 signatures. Second, we are on the eve of the 100th Anniversary of suffrage, a date that certainly underscores both how far we have come in acknowledging women’s equality and how far we still have to go. Third, the unrelenting hostility and denigration of women in the body politic, especially over the last few years, emphasizes the need to permanently protect women’s right to equal opportunity and treatment in every aspect of this country’s fabric—political, economic, social and cultural. Fourth, from the beginning, and in spite of well-financed campaigns against it, the ERA has enjoyed wide-spread, majority support among U.S. voters; one poll concludes that 91% of Republicans, 92% of Independents, and 98% of Democrats support the Amendment. It is important to note that the Mormon Church now takes a neutral position on the Amendment. Fifth, the Supreme Court itself tells us that the ERA is the only lasting protection against gender discrimination. As recently as 2011, Justice Scalia said that the Constitution does not prohibit discrimination based on sex; he said that if citizens wanted that equality, they would have to ratify the ERA. Last, Arizona is historically a maverick state; what could celebrate that character more than being the pivotal vote in an historic, but long overdue, acknowledgement of the human rights of all of our citizens.


We are aware that claims have been made that the ERA would legalize all abortion. This is categorically false. Abortion is already a constitutional right under Roe v. Wade and the battle over that right will continue. The ERA applies only to federal and state actions and will have no impact on churches or religious doctrine or how families choose to organize their lives in the privacy of their own home.

  

The existing statutory protections prohibiting discrimination against women will not be affected because of the ERA. In fact, they will be strengthened because women will become a “protected class” under constitutional analysis, requiring that discrimination against them be given the most thorough scrutiny. Without the ERA, women will continue to have the responsibilities and burdens of citizenship (pay taxes, serve on juries, vote) but without the full protection that the Constitution affords. Adoption of the ERA is not a political issue – it is a purely Constitutional matter.


Arizona needs to pass the ERA to honor those in the past who have fought for equality so long, to honor those in the future who will benefit from a fair opportunity, and to honor our mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, and colleagues who struggle today because of the inequalities affecting their status as citizens since the founding of the Republic. We hope that with your help Arizona will have the exceptional honor of becoming the 38th state to ratify the ERA.


Respectfully submitted,


SIGNERS ALPHABETICAL BY NAME:                                              SIGNERS BY THE YEAR THEY WERE STATE BAR PRESIDENT 

Fritz Aspey (1990-1991)                                                                          Robert Browder  (1970-1971)

Roxana Bacon (1991-1992)                                                                   Stanley Feldman  (1974-1975)

Alan Bayham (2010-2011)                                                                     Mark Harrison  (1975-1976)

Don Bivens  (1998-1999)                                                                        Tom Slutes  (1979-1980)

Robert Browder  (1970-1971)                                                              Tom Zlaket  (1988-1989)

Ernest Calderon  (2002-2003)                                                              Fritz Aspey  (1990-1991)

Amelia Craig Cramer  (2012-2013)                                                     Roxana Bacon  (1991-1992)

Whitney Cunningham  (2013-2014)                                                   Robert Schmitt  (1992-1993)

Stanley Feldman  (1974-1975)                                                             Sarah Simmons  (1993-1994)

Mark Harrison  (1975-1976)                                                                  Michael Murphy  (1994-1995)

Lisa Loo  (2016-2017)                                                                              Michael Kimerer  (1995-1996)

Michael Kimerer  (1995-1996)                                                             Michael Piccarreta  (1996-1997)

Michael Murphy  (1994-1995)                                                              Bob Van Wyck  (1997-1998)

Ed Novak  (2008-2009)                                                                            Don Bivens  (1998-1999)

Helen Perry Grimwood  (2005-2006)                                                Ernest Calderon  (2002-2003)

Michael Piccarreta  (1996-1997)                                                         Pam Treadwell-Rubin  (2003-2004)

Robert Schmitt  (1992-1993)                                                                Charles Wirken  (2004-2005)

Sarah Simmons  (1993-1994)                                                               Helen Perry Grimwood  (2005-2006)

Tom Slutes  (1979-1980)                                                                         Ed Novak  (2008-2009)

Geoffrey Trachtenberg  (2015-2016)                                                 Alan Bayham  (2010-2011)

Pam Treadwell-Rubin  (2003-2004)                                                   Amelia Craig Cramer  (2012-2013)

Bob Van Wyck  (1997-1998)                                                                   Whitney Cunningham  (2013-2014)

Charles Wirken  (2004-2005)                                                                 Geoffrey Trachtenberg  (2015-2016)

Tom Zlaket  (1988-1989)                                                                         Lisa Loo  (2016-2017)

    


retired arizona judges

  

TO:           Members of the Arizona State Legislature 

FROM:     Retired Arizona Judges

DATE:      March 6, 2019

RE:           Equal Rights Amendment


As former/retired judges in Arizona, we would like to make some things clear regarding the Equal Rights Amendment that has been introduced into the Arizona legislature seeking to have Arizona be the 38th state to ratify the ERA.


The existence of the “timeline” put into the preamble of the ERA in 1973 and then updated in 1979 does not make the amendment “illegal” nor mean that it has passed any timeline. Congress has sole authority to set any deadline and the ERA “deadline” has already been changed once in 1978. Bills have been introduced in Congress (HJ53 and SJ Res 5) to extend the deadline again. The 27th Amendment was ratified 203 years after it was first introduced. No amendment had a deadline until the 18th but the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote had no deadline. The Congressional Research Service said in 2013 and 2018 that the deadline does not invalidate contemporary ERA ratifications.


While the 14th Amendment contains clauses to protect all citizens not until 1971, (Reed v. Reed) did the Supreme Court rule that women were covered under that amendment. The Supreme Court has never held that the 14th Amendment gave women Constitutional protection. In fact, Supreme Court Justice Scalia said in 2011 that the 14th Amendment does not cover women. “Certainly, the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn't.”


Sex is currently not a protected class so that discrimination based on sex would be scrutinized at the highest level. The Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg said in U.S. v. Virginia in 1996 that, “The heightened review standard our precedent establishes does not make sex a proscribed classification.” Very clearly, women are not protected under the Constitution.


Sex is a “protected class” under some statutes but a statute is not a constitutional guarantee. The U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that only three “protected classes,” color, race, and national origin, exist under the 14th Amendment. Religion is protected under the 5th Amendment due process clause and the 1st Amendment. If the Equal Rights Amendment passed, judges would be required to scrutinize sex discrimination cases under “strict scrutiny.”


The Equal Rights Amendment does not impact the constitutionality of abortion. Abortion is already a constitutional right under Roe v. Wade that was decided on privacy grounds not equality of rights. To make such an important decision and granting equality of rights to 51% of our population, over 161 million women and children, not only legislators but the public should have accurate information about the impact of their decisions.


  

RETIRED JUDGES SIGNED ONTO THE LETTER:

Mark Aceto, Judge (ret)

Linda Akers, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge (ret)

Louis A. Araneta, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge (ret)

A Craig Blakey II, Judge (ret)

Retired Judge Bernard J. Dougherty, Maricopa County Superior Court

Judge John Foreman (retired), Superior Court of Arizona, Maricopa County

Stephen A. Gerst, Judge (ret)

Hon. Robert Gottsfield (ret)

Hon. Joseph B. Heilman, Retired, Superior Court Judge, Maricopa County

Barbara M. Jarrett, Retired, Superior Court Judge for Maricopa County

Judge Steven d. Sheldon, (ret)

Hon. David M. Talamante (retired)

Judge Janna L. Vanderpool (retired)

Write letters

Advocacy Letters to legislators & editors

 LEGISLATORS                 


Why Write?

  • Legislators care about re-election and about passing bills 
  • Letters provide a written record of constituents’ concerns and positions and communicate a serious interest in an issue
  • Remind them that they work for you, and you are paying attention to their actions


Structure of Letter/ Template (see our samples here)

  • Begin with a concise and clear subject line; reference the bill number or issues about which you are writing
  • Introduce yourself, identify yourself as a constituent, describe relevant credentials or expertise, and explain your reason for writing. Mention any personal connection with the legislator, if you have supported their campaign, etc.  (2 – 3 sentences)
  • Make your case. Choose two or three of the strongest points to persuade the legislator to support your position. Include specific and concrete facts. Tell a personal story about how this legislation impacts your life or your friends/ family/ community members’ lives.  Connect the issue with the legislator’s experience or interests (1 -2 short paragraphs)
  • State your call to action. Are you asking to support legislation, make a public statement, change aspects of a bill? (1-2 sentences)
  • Thank the legislator for considering your views, restate your key message and end with specific questions about what actions they will take, to prompt a reply (1-2 sentences)
  • Include the date, your full name, address (including the zip code) email, telephone number


Best Practices/ Tips

  • Contact your legislators when the issue is in front of them; see sources below to follow legislation 
  • Read your legislator’s website to determine what issues are most important to them and tie your “ask” to their interests 
  • Find the “contact” information on your legislator’s website to determine how to submit your letter (typically by email or through a web-based form)
  • Write to your legislators only when advocating for action on a particular piece of legislation; If you want to influence a legislator who doesn’t represent you could ask your legislator to act on your behalf 
  • There may be occasions when you should write to a committee chair or other politician who has significant power over the outcome of the legislation; be guided by the legislative alerts that you read from various advocacy groups (see below)
  • Spell the legislator’s name correctly, and use the appropriate salutation (Dear Representative, Senator)
  • Cover only one issue per letter, and limit your letter to one page or the equivalent
  • Be polite and respectful, request (not demand) action, avoid threats 
  • Emphasize personal stories to help them understand how the issues you care about connect to real people in their constituency 
  • Write from the heart; use emotionally charged words like disappointed, appalled, infuriated, disheartened, outraged, or delighted, pleased, hopeful, grateful, optimistic
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  • Run spell/grammar check before sending the letter
  • If you don’t get a response to your initial letter in a timely fashion, write again
  • Send a thank you note when they do something that you like
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Additional Suggestions & Resources





  

EDITORS


Why Write?

  • Letters to the editor in local  newspapers are read by your legislators, especially if they or an issue  that they are championing or opposing is discussed
  • Your interest focuses attention  on an issue that has broad community impact and can mobilize others to take action
  • Letters submitted by a group (formal or an alliance of concerned citizens) may have more impact 


Structure of Letter

  • Refer to the article or issue  about which you are writing; identify in full the person or entity that  you are trying to influence 
  • Lead with your reaction to the  article, and state your opinion 
  • Back up your statements with facts from reputable, verifiable sources
  • Include any personal experience  or professional qualifications pertinent to the topic
  • End with a call to action, explain what you think needs to happen next
  • Include all of your contact information as requested by the paper 


Best Practices/ Tips

  • Read the newspaper’s submission guidelines, especially regarding length and tone
  • Focus on local issues that are current  and relevant to your neighbors
  • Keep it short (a rule of thumb  is 250 words) and write about one issue
  • Use one or two powerful facts to make your point without engaging in a policy discussion
  • Share relevant personal stories  and anecdotes if they add color, context and validity
  • Be positive, creative, show emotion, passion, and respect
  • Write the letter in your own words, and inject humor if appropriate
  • Read other LTEs in the newspaper to ascertain type and style of letters published
  • Don’t be discouraged if your letter is not published; try again on another topic
  • See “Advocacy Letters to Legislators” for additional tips


Selected Local Newspapers LTE Submission Links

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