Letters to the Editor: January 9 – 15, 2020
News-Press Gets It Wrong On Virginia Legislation
In two separate articles [last] week, the News-Press refers to legislation, but doesn’t get it quite right.
First, in an article about the power of localities to remove Confederate monuments, you twice refer to the Dillon Rule as allowing “the state to limit the powers of local government.” That’s a good description of Home Rule and effectively the opposite of what the Virginia Supreme Court has held the Dillon Rule means. “The Dillon Rule provides that local governing bodies have only those powers that are expressly granted, those that are necessarily or fairly implied from expressly granted powers and those that are essential and indispensable.” Tabler v. Fairfax County, 269 S.E.2d 358 (1980).
Then, in an article about the upcoming Virginia legislative session, you suggest that the Old Dominion will be the deciding state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. But the ratification deadline passed nearly 40 years ago. Five states have also attempted to rescind their ratification of the ERA. While most legal scholars believe that a state’s attempted rescission of its ratification of a constitutional amendment is not valid and it appears fairly clear that Congress may extend the ratification deadline for constitutional amendments, an extension of the ratification deadline appears unlikely given the current composition of the Senate. Moreover, the legislative history of the ERA, especially H. J. Res. 638 — which extended the ratification deadline in 1978, suggests that an unending ratification period may not be permissible. What is clear is that even if Virginia becomes the 38th state to ratify the equal rights amendment it is far from a certainty that it will become the first constitutional amendment in 28 years.
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