The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), an organization committed to human rights, opposed the ERA on the same grounds that social justice feminists had. Kitchelt and her husband were long-time members of the ACLU. Between 1949 and 1955, she allied with other prominent women, including Pearl Buck, Alma Lutz, and Judge Libby Sacher, to request a formal hearing from the ACLU to reconsider the Union's stance on the amendment. Influenced largely by Dorothy Kenyon, a social feminist and a U.S. delegate on the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, the ACLU refused to endorse the ERA.
170 FIFTH AVENUE
NEW YORK 10, N. Y.
April 20, 1955
TO: Board of Directors and National Committee
FROM: Alan Reitman
The office has learned that the Connecticut Committee for the Equal Rights Amendment has sent you a letter urging reversal of the Union's position opposing the Amendment.
In case you wish to reply to the Connecticut Committee, we are giving you below the background for the Union's policy and enclosing an article by Judge Kenyon in the June 1954 Civil Liberties.
No request has been made by a Board or National Committee member for reconsideration of our policy, but the issue can be brought to the Board's attention at a future meeting if such a request is made.
Board minutes, January 4, 1954
(3) WOMEN'S RIGHTS AMENDMENT.
Judge Kenyon reported that the Women's Rights Committee has reviewed this question, and recommended that the Union continue its opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment on the grounds that the matters it would actually affect are becoming so minor that they should not be handled by constitutional amendment, and that the principal remaining discriminations against women are not based primarily on law but on custom and practice, which the Amendment would not touch. The Board approved the Committee's recommendation, and the suggestion made during discussion that Judge Kenyon should draw up a statement for subsequent office use on this question.
Women's Rights Committee minutes, November 2, 1953
1. In view of the revived interest in the Equal Rights Amendment, which recently passed the Senate and will be before the House for consideration in the next Congressional session, the Committee reviewed again its views on the Amendment. After discussion, it approved a resolution by Mr. Fraenkel opposing the Equal Rights Amendment on the grounds that the specific issues it would cover are becoming so minor that it should not be handled by constitutional amendment, and that the principal remaining discriminations against women are not based primarily on law but on custom and practice, which the amendment would not touch.
2. The Committee also discussed the Haydn Amendment to the Equal Rights Amendment and agreed that in view of its opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment, there was no need to comment on the Haydn Amendment.
3. The Committee also discussed the recent proposal by Senator Hunt, which is a substitute for the proposed Equal Rights Amendment, and the Committee voted to take no position on this bill at this time.