A US District Court judge Wednesday upheld the right of Idaho and other states to withdraw their ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and said Congress did not have the authority to grant an extension of a ratification deadline for the proposal.
Supporters of the women's rights movement immediately criticized the ruling and said they would fight it all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.
The suit filed on behalf of Idaho, Arizona, and Washington state lawmakers also sought an order declaring congressional extension of the ERA ratification deadline to June 30, 1982, unconstitutional.
Officials of the National Organization for Women, which supports the 27th amendment - that no person shall be discriminated against because of sex - said before the decision that this was a case of ''life or death.''
Thirty-five states have ratified the amendment to date, but Idaho said ratification from five of those should be tossed out because lawmakers since have changed their minds and withdrawn their previous approval.
Judge Callister's ruling would remove Idaho, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Dakota, and Nebraska from the list of states that have adopted the amendment. This would make ERA supporters eight states short of the 38 needed to make the amendment part of the Constitution.