A federal constitutional amendment designed to ensure rights in criminal proceedings for victims of violent crime is a “bad idea whose time, unfortunately, may have come,” editorializes the Washington Post. Earlier versions had stalled, but a the measure may now pass with both houses of Congress controlled by Republicans. “Unless senators are willing to stand on principle, this could be the year a dangerous amendment gets sent to the states for ratification,” the Post says.
The amendment would guarantee victims “reasonable and timely notice” of proceedings in their cases and the right to be present and “reasonably to be heard” at such hearings as sentencing, clemency and parole. It would also guarantee to victims the right to seek restitution from their assailants.
The Post complains that the measure’s key terms go undefined, starting with “victim.” The newspaper maintains that it “could either create a series of rights with no plausible remedies or — worse yet — allow victims to interfere in continuing trials to try to assert their rights. Either way, it would take years of litigation simply to know what this amendment means…”