Document 8: "HR 2007, Commission on Legal Status of Women Bill," 17 February 1947, Folder: Individual Liberties/Equal Rights, Box 45, League of Women Voters of Iowa papers, Iowa Womens Archives, University of Iowa.
House Resolution 2007 proposed the formation of a Commission on the Legal Status of Women in the United States. According to the bill, the members of the commission would be appointed by the President of the United States and would perform the duties of the commission between March 1, 1947 and March 1, 1948.Had it been established, this commission would have preceded the much-analyzed Presidential Commission on the Status of Women formed IN 1963 during the Kennedy administration. The League of Women Voters favored the formation of the commission as an alternative to the proposed Equal Rights Amendment. This is the same bill that Iowa League President, Laura DeGowin, lobbied Governor Robert Blue to support.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
February 17, 1947 Mr. Wadsworth introduced the following bill; which was referred to the
Committee on the Judiciary
To establish a commission on the legal status of women in the United States, to declare a policy as to distinctions based on sex, in law and administration, and for other purposes.
Whereas the economic, civil, social, and political progress of women has been burdened and impeded by discriminations arising in part from assumptions embedded in the common law; and Whereas notwithstanding notable legislative achievements in modern times there remain in effect statutes, regulations, rules, and governmental practices which discriminate unfairly on the basis of sex; and
Whereas since the Charter of the United Nations, ratified by and for the United States on July 28, 1945, declares it to be among its purposes to "achieve international cooperation in * * * promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinctions as to * * * sex" (art. 1), it should be the purpose of the United States and several States and their political subdivisions, to bring their laws and the administration thereof into harmony with these principles; and
Whereas the authority and jurisdiction to remove existing burdens and impediments upon the status of women resides, to a great extent, in the legislatures of the several States; and Whereas the present is an appropriate occasion to review the political, civil, economic, and social status of women for the purpose of modernizing applicable legal codes and administrative practices: Now therefore
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that it is the declared policy of the United States that in law and its administration no distinctions on the basis of sex shall be made except such as are reasonably justified by differences in physical structure, biological, or social function.
SEC. 2. (a) There is hereby established a Commission on the Legal Status of Women (hereinafter referred to as the 147;Commission 148;) to be composed of nine members appointed by the President, not more than three of whom shall be employees or officers of the executive branch of the Government.One of the members shall be designated by the President as Chairman. Vacancies in the membership of the Commission shall not impair its powers to exercise its functions and shall be filled in the same manner as in the case of original appointments. Members of the Commission shall receive their necessary travel expenses and a per diem allowance of $10 in lieu of subsistence.
(b) The Commission shall make a full and complete study, investigation, and review of the economic, civil, social, and political status of women, and the nature and extent of discriminations based on sex throughout the United States, its Territories and possessions.In carrying out its study and investigation, the Commission is further authorized to make such investigations and studies of the regulations, rules, practices, procedures, and files of all departments, independent agencies and establishments, and all other agencies of the United States in the executive branch of the Government as is necessary for the performance of its functions.
(c) Prior to March 1, 1948, the Commission shall submit to the President its final report which shall include recommendations for such legislation as may be necessary to cause the laws of the United States and their administration to conform with the policy set forth in section 1 of this Act.
(d) The Commission is authorized without regard to the civil-service laws and the classification Act of 1923, as amended, to employ and fix the compensation of such officers and employees as it deems necessary for the performance of its functions and to use voluntary and uncompensated personnel. The Commission may make such expenditures as may be necessary for the performance of its functions. The Commission may, with the consent of the department, independent establishment or agency, or authority concerned (Federal or State), utilize their facilities, services, and personnel.The Commission may, in ccooperation with private agencies, utilizes their facilities, services, and information with or without compensation therefor.
SEC. 3. Within thirty days after its receipt, the President shall transmit the report and recommendations of the Commission to the Congress, together with his own recommendations, as to any further action by Congress which may be necessary to cause the laws of the Unites States and their administration to conform with the policy set forth in section 1 of this Act, and, when such report of the President is so transmitted, the Commission and all authority, powers, and duties conferred upon it in this Act, shall terminate.
SEC. 4. (a) Insofar as may be authorized by existing law, every department, independent agency or establishment, and all other agencies of the United States in the executive branch of the Government
(1) shall cause all regulations and rules issued or practices engaged in by them to conform to the policy set forth in section 1 of this Act; and
(2) shall modify, amend, repeal, or eliminate such regulations, rules, or practices not in conformity with the policy set forth in section 1 of this Act.
(b) After complying with the provisions of subsection (a) every such department, independent agency and establishment, and such other agencies shall inform the Commission prior to November 1, 1947, of the extent to which its regulations, rules, and practices continue to embody distinctions on the basis of sex and the statutory or other justification therefor.
SEC. 5. The legislative bodies of the several States and their political subdivisions are urged to declare, by resolution or other appropriate form of procedure, the adoption of a legislative policy in conformity with the policy of the United States as expressed in section 1 of this Act, to review legislation, regulations, ordinances, and governmental practices, and to take such further action, including, but without limitation, passage of legislation, as will insure that law and its administration within their respective jurisdictions will be in conformity with such policy. The President is directed to transmit a copy of this Act and the report of the Commission to the executive heads of the several States, Territories, and possessions.
SEC. 6. There is hereby authorized to be appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, such sums as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act.
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