Letters to the Editor

The Equal Rights Amendment does not ‘abuse’ the Constitution

In 1982, about 7,000 Equal Rights Amendment supporters demonstrated in Raleigh.
In 1982, about 7,000 Equal Rights Amendment supporters demonstrated in Raleigh.

Regarding “States should leave the ERA back in the ’70s” (June 17): We reject George Will’s thesis that the Equal Rights Amendment would somehow be “abuse of the Constitution.” We fail to see how finally ensuring the rights of women in the Constitution is anything other than closing an egregious gap in the Constitution’s protections.

Will’s implicit assertion that the 14th Amendment should be enough to guarantee women protection against discrimination based on gender flies in the face of the fact that race, religion, and national origin are categories that receive strict scrutiny in discrimination cases, whereas gender is only given intermediate scrutiny.

As Justice Antonin Scalia said, “Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t.”

Scalia went on to say, in that same interview, that he thought the remedy for the situation was for legislatures to pass laws. But legislatures have passed laws, and yet discrimination continues.

Something as fundamental as the rights of half of the population should not be subject to the legislative whims of the day.

Sheila Denn and Elaine Okal

Co-Chairs, ERA Committee

League of Women Voters of Wake County

Petition ‘misconstrued’

As a longtime Durham resident and as a Jew, I want to say thanks to the Durham City Council for passing a new policy that will prevent military-style police exchanges with Israel and other countries. I was disturbed to read “Rabbis call for dialogue with Jewish community” (June 10) from local rabbis who oppose the new City Council policy in large part because they misconstrued the contents of a petition that council received on this issue from the Durham2Palestine Coalition.

The actual petition states only the following: “We are members of Durham’s community committed to peace and justice from Durham to Palestine. We want to live in a Durham that ensures true collective safety for all, and so we demand that the City of Durham immediately halt any partnerships that the Durham Police Department has or might enter into with the Israeli Defense Forces and/or the Israel Police.”

A majority of the people who signed the petition, including most Durham City Council members, did so on a paper version and saw only this one paragraph. As is common for a local community petition drive, the coalition also had an online petition. This online version contained a brief “background” section which appears before the petition text itself. The coalition did not present this background section to the council since it has never been part of the petition.

Yet the rabbis quote exclusively from this background language, wrongly deducing that it was part of the petition. In addition, the rabbis miss the point that a petition is simply a petition – the City Council drafted and passed its own policy.

Tom Stern


Jewish Voice for Peace – Triangle NC

‘Skewing elections’

Regarding “NC voter ID question could appear on November ballot” (June 8): North Carolinians need to decide whether or not to require voter ID when we vote. Whenever we are proposing a change to a system that is basically working, we should ask first what our objectives are, and second, whether the proposed change advances those objectives.

In creating/improving a voting system we have two critical criteria, (1) we should enable and encourage as many qualified people to vote as possible, and (2) we should minimize the number of invalid ballots cast. Note that preventing a ballot from being cast has the same negative effect as allowing an invalid ballot.

All research indicates that the number of invalid ballots cast in each North Carolina election is exceedingly small. Studies have also shown that minorities have a harder time getting IDs, and that voter ID requirements suppress the minority vote. Therefore, requiring voter IDs will distort the election result suppressing one groups vote without significantly decreasing the small number of invalid ballots.

Please consider what is gained and what is lost by having a voter ID law. Research shows that a voter ID requirement will have the effect of skewing elections.

Robert D. Love