Representative Martha Griffiths filed this discharge petition on June 11, 1970, to force House Joint Resolution 264 out of the Judiciary Committee to the House Floor for a vote. The resolution proposed an amendment to the Constitution for equal rights for men and women. The petition contained the signatures of 218 Members from the 91st Congress with a number next to the name of each Member indicating the order in which they signed the petition and the text of the clause of House Rules covering procedures for discharge petitions.
If a bill stalls in committee for more than 30 days, a discharge petition can be used to bring the bill out of committee for consideration by the full House. A procedural tactic that is, by design, difficult to achieve, discharge petitions are rarely used. The motion requires a majority of Members’ signatures to trigger the action. Griffiths achieved the necessary 218 signatures on July 20, 1970. On August 10, H. J. Res. 264 passed the House, but it later failed to pass the Senate before the end of the Congress.
The Equal Rights Amendment passed both chambers in the 92nd Congress, but failed to achieve the necessary ratification by three-fourths of the states to amend the Constitution.