Friday, March 29, 2024

Random Phone Call defeated the ERA

Article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Opinion: How a random phone call defeated the Equal Rights Amendment

Mark R. Rank

ometimes history is shaped by monumental forces. Sometimes history is shaped by chance and luck. In the 1970s, Phyllis Schlafly played a pivotal role in defeating the Equal Rights Amendment. But as I explain in my forthcoming book, “The Random Factor,” Schlafly’s involvement almost didn’t happen.

Congress first debated the ERA in 1923. It was then introduced into every Congressional session until 1970, but routinely failed to reach a floor vote.

That changed in 1972, when the amendment was finally approved by the House and Senate and sent to the states for ratification. It stated, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

Schlafly believed passage of the ERA would cost women certain traditional privileges. But by the time she fully engaged in the fight, the amendment had been ratified by 30 states, needing only eight more to become law.

Schlafly’s opposition proved decisive. Her ability to raise concerns and fears, and to get those concerns heard in a wider context, was widely seen as the key component in turning the tide against the amendment, which eventually fell three states short of final ratification.

As political scientist Jane Mansbridge wrote, “Many people who followed the struggle over the ERA believed — rightly in my view — that the Amendment would have been ratified by 1975 or 1976 had it not been for Phyllis Schlafly’s early and effective effort to organize political opponents.”

When I interviewed Schlafly in St. Louis in 2011, she was 86. We talked about a wide range of issues, but most surprising was the fact that her involvement with the ERA was the result of a completely chance event. It was a twist of fate that would change the direction of the country.

One day in November 1971, a friend of Schlafly’s in Connecticut called from out of the blue. Would Phyllis be interested in speaking at the local public library? Schlafly said she’d consider it, and suggested that she could address the strategic balance of arms between the United States and Russia — a long-standing area of interest.

“No, no,” the friend said. “I don’t want to hear about that. We want to hear about the Equal Rights Amendment.”

“I haven’t looked at it,” Schlafly replied, “and I don’t know whether I’m for it or against it.”

“I’ll send you a packet of material,” the friend responded, “and I know which side you will be on.”

The friend sent the materials. Schlafly spoke at the library, which in turn jump-started her efforts to spearhead the opposition to the ERA.

But what might have happened if Schlafly hadn’t received that phone call?

I asked her just that. She said that in all likelihood she would have continued writing and speaking about the strategic balance of arms and would not have gotten involved with the ERA — or if she had, it would have been too late to prevent its ratification.

Could someone else have played a similar role in halting the ERA? Possibly. Would that person have been as effective as Phyllis Schlafly? Unlikely.

What we do know is that Schlafly played a key role in bending history. Had that Connecticut friend not phoned when she did, our nation and politics might look very different. They certainly would look different with respect to the ERA, which would have become the 27th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

(The actual 27th amendment, ratified in 1992, requires that any salary changes for members of Congress don’t take effect until after the next House election. No amendment has been ratified since.)

It is not an exaggeration to view the defeat of the ERA as an initial step in the country’s move toward a more conservative direction that has continued over the last 50 years, and that a random telephone call set in motion that movement.

Fittingly, one of Phyllis Schlafly’s last public appearances was in support of Donald Trump’s successful run for the presidency in 2016. At a rally in St. Louis on March 11, 2016, the 91-year old Schlafly gave her ringing support.

A single telephone call from 45 years prior was in all likelihood the reason that Schlafly was asked to give her final conservative endorsement and share the stage with the future president of the United States. In fact, that telephone call may have indirectly helped pave the way for the rise of Donald Trump.

The contours of American society are shaped by many forces. But never underestimate the role of chance. In the end, history was changed not by a monumental action or event, but by a purely chance occurrence that has continued to ripple throughout the social and political contours of American society.

Rank is the Herbert S. Hadley Professor of Social Welfare at Washington University in St. Louis. He is the author of the forthcoming book, “The Random Factor: How Chance and Luck Profoundly Shape Our Lives and the World around Us.”

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Landslide in Ohio Shows GOP Path to Victory

The Phyllis Schlafly Report
By John and Andy Schlafly

The stunning landslide by underdog U.S. Senate candidate Bernie Moreno in the Ohio GOP primary shows the way for Republican victory throughout the all-important Rust Belt this fall. Pennsylvania, Michigan, and nearby Wisconsin can all be won with Moreno’s campaign theme: creating jobs for Americans.

Polling showed a too-close-to-call race between Moreno and the establishment-favored candidate, state senator Matt Dolan. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) and the popular former U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R) endorsed Dolan, who is the powerful state Senate Finance Committee Chairman.

Moreno is a former car salesman who campaigned that “for too long, the men and women who move Ohio forward, American workers, have been left behind by career politicians.” He was endorsed by Donald Trump and Sen. JD Vance (R-OH), who stated at a Trump rally that all of the net job growth under Biden’s presidency has gone to the foreign born, while during Trump’s presidency the job growth went to American citizens.

I am so sick of Republicans that will say ‘I support President Trump’s policies, but I don’t like the man,’” Moreno declared to a cheering crowd. “This man wakes up every day fighting for us, fighting for this country.

Trump’s rallies are a gold mine for our country and Republicans this year, without the Covid restrictions of 2020. From Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, 2020, the crucial period just prior to early voting, there were no Trump rallies in the key swing states of Michigan, Georgia, or Arizona, and only one in Wisconsin.

Trump’s Ohio rally boosted Moreno to victory, and more rallies like that in other Rust Belt states can work wonders. Emphasizing the issue of manufacturing jobs is a winner for all Republicans.

Tyson Foods just announced that it is laying off 1,300 workers in an Iowa city of only 8,000. Many suspect that Tyson will replace those workers with migrants, and a federal tax break called the Work Opportunity Tax Credit provides employers an incentive of up to $9,600 for each new hire from certain targeted groups, plus housing benefits.

A quarter of the new jobs during the Biden presidency have been government employment, which burdens taxpayers with no net benefit. Much of the remaining job growth consists of part-time second jobs and other low-wage work rather than well-paying manufacturing jobs.

Wage growth is sharply declining in the U.S. Many of the most desirable companies to work for have announced job cuts, including American Airlines, Alphabet (Google), Citigroup, UPS, and Amazon.

Winning Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia or Arizona is all Trump needs to retake the White House in 7 months. Michigan is more dependent on car manufacturing than Ohio, and last Wednesday Biden delivered a death knell to the auto industry.

Biden issued regulations through the EPA that will require most new cars and trucks to be electric vehicles or hybrids in less than a decade, by 2032. Unless reversed, the new rules will transfer hundreds of thousands of automaking jobs from Michigan to China, which is churning out electric vehicles more cheaply than anyone else.

Biden follows the lead of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has required that electric vehicles comprise most new vehicle sales by 2028, and by 2035 all sales of new cars, SUVs, and light trucks must be electric. Biden gave California a special waiver from the Clean Air Act to allow leftwing environmentalists to impose their own emissions requirements, and 11 additional states foolishly plan to adopt California’s unrealistic ban on gasoline-powered cars.

Biden’s pro-China car mandates will bankrupt Detroit’s auto manufacturers. EVs are immense money-losers for the “Detroit Three” companies, totaling less than 4% of sales by General Motors and Ford last year.

This issue can flip Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin to the Republican side, as it has already done for Ohio. Both Michigan and Pennsylvania depend on manufacturing jobs, and cold Wisconsin winters require gasoline-powered cars rather than the temperature-fussy EVs.

Biden’s campaign recognizes that he has a jobs problem. Immediately after the Ohio primary Biden traveled to the swing state of Arizona to announce an $8.5 billion handout and $11 billion in loans to support Intel’s new semiconductor facilities to make chips on which electric vehicles depend far more than traditional cars do.

Biden is also taking advice from Democrat Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), who is up for reelection, opposing the planned takeover of US Steel by a Japanese company. Left-leaning Politico reports that “Sen. Bob Casey and other Democratic Rust Belt senators have been pushing Biden toward ever-more-populist trade and economic policies.”

Biden’s gestures are too little, too late. His policy of opening the border to illegal immigrants hurts American jobs, and his war on Detroit automakers by mandating EVs produced by China is devastating to the American worker.

John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) and lead the continuing Phyllis Schlafly Eagles organizations with writing and policy work.

These columns are also posted on,, and

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

SCOTUS Went 0-for-4 on Monday

The Phyllis Schlafly Report
By John and Andy Schlafly

The Supreme Court went 0-for-4 on Monday, which in spring training for baseball would justify sending the batter to the minor rather than the big leagues. In four cases the Court should have stood strongly against wrongdoing by Biden, the Department of Justice, and the State of New York, but instead acted to appease those liberal regimes.

First up was the case that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) calls “the most consequential free speech case in U.S. history,” Murthy v. Missouri. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit had properly enjoined the Biden Administration from telling social media, such as Facebook and YouTube, to take down postings that Democrats do not like.

Such interference with free speech is an affront to the First Amendment, and yet most of the Supreme Court justices seemed just fine with it. The Justices should have taken the White House to the woodshed for its interference with Americans’ exercise of freedom of speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment.

It was a dismaying barrage of pro-censorship comments by justices that condoned infringements on free speech by the Biden Administration. Liberal Justice Elena Kagan declared that manipulation of the media “happens literally thousands of times a day in the federal government.”

Five Republican Justices raised no objection to the censorship of free speech by the Biden Administration. Only Justice Alito demanded to know why “There is constant pestering of Facebook and some of the other platforms,” and government officials “want to have regular meetings, and they suggest … rules that should be applied and why don’t you tell us everything that you’re going to do so we can help you and we can look it over.”

And I thought: Wow, I cannot imagine federal officials taking that approach to the print media.” Justice Alito explained that the federal government has leverage over social media because of its special legal immunity from lawsuits, and the government has been “treating Facebook and these other platforms like they’re subordinates.”

Next up was the lawsuit by the National Rifle Association (NRA) against New York State officials for telling insurers and bankers not to do business with the pro-Second Amendment group. This case concerns such an egregious infringement on the First Amendment that the Biden Administration even participated in oral argument mostly on the side of the NRA.

But again a terrific opportunity to educate the public about the importance of a robust First Amendment was kicked away. At times it appeared that the attorney arguing for the Biden Administration was a bigger defender of the NRA’s right to free speech than some of the Republican-appointed justices were.

The New York Times’ analysis suggests that the NRA will win its case, but it should win with a broad ruling rather than a narrow one that the justices seemed to prefer. New York State officials actually met with the insurer Lloyd’s to tell it not to provide insurance to the NRA, and the Court’s decision may be limited to the misconduct of that meeting.

The third case was the application by Trump’s senior advisor Peter Navarro, Ph.D. from Harvard, to remain free from prison pending his appeal of his conviction in the anti-Trump D.C. venue for declining to testify before the Trump-hating congressional January 6th committee. Navarro invoked executive privilege, as other high-level Trump officials have, and he is likely to be pardoned by a re-elected Trump on the next January 20.

Chief Justice John Roberts withheld Navarro’s application from the full Court, and Roberts then denied it in a one-page ruling Monday afternoon that failed to address any of Navarro’s compelling defenses. Roberts’ superficial ruling relied entirely on procedural technicalities, failing to recognize that most defendants in Navarro’s circumstances are allowed to remain free pending appeal.

Navarro reported to prison on Tuesday as required, and will be free again in about three months. “There is much at stake here and it is worth the fight,” Navarro declared about continuing his appeal in the courts.

Finally, the Court’s fourth strike-out at the plate on Monday was to extend again an injunction against the good new Texas law, SB 4, which authorizes Texas officials to arrest illegal aliens and remove them to the border for deportation by federal officials. Fortunately, on Tuesday the Court voted 6-3 to allow this law to go into effect, but two Justices (Barrett and Kavanaugh) weakly did so for procedural reasons conditioned on the Fifth Circuit deciding Biden’s lawsuit against it soon.

In all four of these cases the Supreme Court could have acted in a way to strengthen our Constitution and our rights under it, including freedom of speech. Instead, the Court makes it painfully clear that it cannot be relied upon to save our country.

John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) and lead the continuing Phyllis Schlafly Eagles organizations with writing and policy work.

These columns are also posted on,, and

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Let Texas Secure the Border

The Phyllis Schlafly Report
By John and Andy Schlafly

Hidden beneath the kerfuffle about last week’s speeches on Capitol Hill, a significant debate is occurring just across the street at the Supreme Court. There the Biden Administration is asking the Court to block a splendid new Texas law against illegal aliens, SB 4, and on Monday Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed his vigorous response in full support of this law.

SB 4 strengthens the ability of Texas law enforcement officials and judges to take appropriate action against illegal aliens, including making it a state crime for them to enter or re-enter Texas unlawfully. A state judge is authorized to order a convicted illegal alien to be transported by state officials to an official port of entry along the border, where he can then be deported by the federal government back to Mexico.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit expedited this case and will hold oral argument on April 3rd, but the Biden Administration demanded an immediate injunction from the Supreme Court against this good law. The Court granted a temporary administrative stay to Biden that blocks this law pending a further ruling by the high court, which is expected later this month.

The Constitution recognizes that every State retains the sovereign power to defend itself against a foreign invasion, which is what the illegal migration over the Texas-Mexico border by millions of people, organized and directed by armed transnational drug cartels, really is. Biden has deliberately chosen not to enforce federal laws against these crimes, but he should not be able to stop Texas from enforcing its own laws consistent with the unenforced federal laws.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) recently tweeted details about another tragic death of an American caused by an illegal alien, this time in Hazelwood, Missouri. Driving in the wrong lane at more than 70 mph in a 40 mph zone without a driver’s license, an illegal from Venezuela smashed head-on into a car carrying 12-year-old Travis Wolfe, who subsequently died on March 6 after being on life support for nearly 3 months.

Texas is the nation’s first-line defense against transnational violence and has been forced to deal with the deadly consequences of the federal government’s inability or unwillingness to protect the border,” Paxton’s brief tells the Supreme Court. By trying to stop Texas from enforcing a law that he refuses to enforce, Biden harms not just Texas, but prevents all of us from defending ourselves against illegal aliens.

Paxton told the Court on Monday that “the Constitution recognizes that Texas has the sovereign right to defend itself from violent transnational cartels that flood the State with fentanyl, weapons, and all manner of brutality.” Biden interferes with this sovereign right of Texas, and in the recent primary Texas Republican voters, who hold a solid majority there, agreed with Paxton and against Biden.

For the first time in a half-century, the Speaker of the Texas House is headed to a crushing defeat at the hands of a young conservative endorsed by Paxton. Dade Phelan had ambushed Paxton last May with a surprise impeachment, after pressuring dozens of Republicans to vote with Democrats in order to try to remove Paxton from the office of Texas Attorney General, where he has protected the nation against illegal invasion by migrants.

Paxton’s endorsements carried to stunning landslide victories two challengers to incumbents on the top criminal court in Texas, which had rebuffed Paxton’s efforts to protect election integrity. A third judicial challenger endorsed by Paxton for that court also won, as did eight challengers to House incumbents; another nine challengers endorsed by Paxton forced the incumbents into the runoff election in May.

The grassroots movement for Texas independence also did well in this primary. Shelley Luther, the Dallas hairdresser who went to jail in 2020 for merely opening her salon during the Covid lockdown, was one of many who prevailed in the legislative primary after embracing a vote on “Texit,” a play on the term “Brexit” by which Britain exited from the European Union.

Continued refusal by the Supreme Court to allow Texas to defend itself against upwards of 10 million illegal aliens – more than a third of the lawful Texas population – puts Texans in a tight spot as they feel unsafe merely going to a grocery store. As Biden continues to deny Texans their right to protect themselves against the illegal invasion, it is predictable that more Texans will embrace the independence movement as the only viable option.

Biden’s DOJ has until Wednesday to reply to Paxton’s persuasive arguments against the scourge of the illegal invasion there. Our entire country would benefit if Texas were allowed to close its border with Mexico and take all appropriate steps to end illegality by migrants who have already poured by the millions into the Lone Star State.

John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) and lead the continuing Phyllis Schlafly Eagles organizations with writing and policy work.

These columns are also posted on,, and

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Fear of Disunity Swings Roberts to Trump’s Side

The Phyllis Schlafly Report
By John and Andy Schlafly

Signs of our country fracturing may have struck a chord with Chief Justice John Roberts, resulting in the surprisingly strong decision on Monday that ends attempts by liberals to disqualify Trump from the presidency. Roberts has disappointed conservatives for a decade, often providing the swing 5th vote for the liberal side, but he appears to be having nightmares about national disunity.

On Monday, Roberts and the Court shut down the effort to use a long-forgotten provision of the Fourteenth Amendment to disqualify Trump from becoming president again. This abruptly ends a year-long quest by Trump-haters to disqualify Trump on the pretext of the Capitol protests on January 6, 2021.

Colorado was the first state to exclude Trump from its ballot, which the unsigned decision of the Supreme Court reversed on Monday to ensure that Trump will be on the ballot there and everywhere else. The ruling was not a moment too soon, as Maine and Illinois had imitated Colorado by blocking Trump from their ballots, too.

At oral argument Roberts warned that Republican states might retaliate by removing Biden from their ballots. His concern is a chaotic future of states misusing the ballot access process in order to tip the presidential election to one side or the other.

Roberts’ decision for the Court then went far beyond the issue of ballot exclusion. To the consternation of liberals, Roberts’ ruling prohibited liberals from disqualifying Trump from the office of presidency by any other way, unless Congress enacts a law authorizing it (which it will not do).

The Court’s opinion tracks the line of questioning by Roberts at oral argument, where he fretted in speculation about practical consequences if Colorado were allowed to exclude Trump from its ballot. Roberts has always been more of a political animal than a legal scholar, preferring simple logical discussion and straightforward arguments about hypothetical scenarios.

The tell-tale sign that Roberts wrote the unsigned opinion is the reaction by the frustrated liberal Justices. Their very first sentence quoted one of Roberts’ prior opinions, as if to rebut him with his own words.

The liberal justices' confrontation of Roberts shows their desperation in being unable to persuade him in a more flattering way. Without Roberts, liberals cannot win on any Trump-related case, even if they are able to pull Justice Amy Coney Barrett to their side.

By lashing out against Roberts, the leftwing justices alienated Justice Barrett in the middle and she rebuked them for their rhetoric. Even though Barrett agreed with liberals that Roberts’ decision went further than it had to, Barrett criticized the liberal Justices for inflaming the “national temperature” at this time, rather than lessening tensions as she felt the Court should be doing.

The sweeping scope of Roberts' decision is devastating to the Never-Trumpers. Not only must Colorado allow Trump back onto its ballot, but the decision effectively prevents anyone in federal or state government from disqualifying Trump, thereby ending all schemes to prevent a victorious Trump from taking office.

The liberal justices agreed that Colorado was wrong to exclude Trump from its ballot, but shockingly wanted options left open for the federal government to disqualify Trump in other ways. It is not clear what the Left has up its sleeve for interfering with the authority of the next elected president, but additional frivolous legal actions against Trump by the Department of Justice are predictable.

In the last Trump Administration the top military brass was defiant of Trump even though he was the Commander-in-Chief. Fortunately, the Supreme Court has eliminated all the arguments by the Left of illegitimacy to the next Trump Administration.

Trump looked fit and trim in delivering a powerful televised statement in response. He thanked the Supreme Court and then turned to the ongoing politically motivated prosecutions of him, and the harm being caused by Biden letting in millions of illegal aliens.

In contrast with the highly scripted public comments by Biden, Trump covered more than a dozen issues extemporaneously, and then responded to a question from the media.

Next month the Supreme Court will hear Trump’s appeal on the issue of his presidential immunity. Liberals have little chance of prevailing as long as Chief Justice Roberts justifiably remains concerned about disunity that would result from allowing the anti-Trump circus to continue interfering with the voters’ selection of the next president.

Roberts does not want a fractured country to reduce him from Chief Justice of the United States to merely a chief justice of the swamp along the Potomac River. In a paraphrase of what Phyllis Schlafly said about her hard-fought victories, Roberts is welcome to choose any reason he likes to save our country from Leftist interference with our democratic process.

John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) and lead the continuing Phyllis Schlafly Eagles organizations with writing and policy work.

These columns are also posted on,, and