The crime victims’ rights statute approved last week by the U.S. Senate was preferable to a constitutional amendment, editorializes the Washington Post. The newspaper says the amendment would have given an “undefined class of victims” constitutional rights in criminal cases on a par with those enjoyed by defendants. Congress can give victims anything that doesn’t infringe upon defendants’ rights, the Post says. The new bill would guarantee them the right in federal cases to notice of public proceedings, to be protected from the accused, to attend proceedings, to confer with prosecutors, to receive restitution from the perpetrator and to be otherwise treated “with fairness and with respect for the victim’s dignity and privacy.”
The proposal would allow victims to ask appeals courts to force trial judges who ignore their rights to respect them. Granting victims standing in court whenever they feel their “dignity and privacy” have been disregarded could prove troublesome for prosecutors, the Post says.