THIS MONDAY, the Supreme Court proved that the country needs the Equal Rights Amendment. In a seven-to-two decision, it let stand three federal court rulings, which allow the government to continue funding school districts that discriminate on the basis of sex in employment. The Court's refusal to review these cases repudiated the Department of Health, Education and Welfare's attempt to use the 1972 amendments to the federal education law to outlaw sex discrimination.
The ERA is needed for concrete, as well as symbolic reasons. Current law fails to protect the rights of women to equal treatment. In this instance, the law suits involved fundamental questions of justice. In one case, a female college administrator was being paid less than her male counterpart. Another case challenged a school district's policy of forbidding the use of sick leave for pregnancy.