WASHINGTON- U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday called on Congress to immediately act to enshrine the Equal Rights Amendment in the U.S. Constitution and formally protect women's rights decades after lawmakers adopted them.

Biden, in a statement released by the White House, urged Congress "to pass a resolution recognizing ratification of the ERA" after a recent legal analysis said there was nothing preventing lawmakers from acting.

"We must recognize the clear will of the American people and definitively enshrine the principle of gender equality in the Constitution. It is long past time that we put all doubt to rest," Biden said. "No one should be discriminated against based on their sex—and we, as a nation, must stand up for full women’s equality."

Biden's call comes amid ongoing legal jostling over the deadline to enact the ERA, which passed Congress in the early 1970s with a 1982 deadline to be enacted if 38 state legislatures voted to approve.

Virginia became the 38th state to back it in 2020, but then-President Donald Trump moved to block its ratification, issuing a legal memo saying the process must begin anew.

A new analysis by the Justice Department, however, allowed the process to move forward, Biden said, adding the memo "makes clear, there is nothing standing in Congress’s way from doing so."

(Reporting by Susan Heavey Editing by Tomasz Janowski) ((sheavey@thomsonreuters.com; +1-202-898-8300;))