Critics Challenge Victims’ Rights Measure Approved in PA

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A vast majority of votes cast Tuesday in Pennsylvania favored a state constitutional amendment known as Marsy’s Law that broadens and enshrines victims’ rights. Most voters may not realize that the amendment cuts away at the rights of defendants, editorializes the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The League of Women Voters and the American Civil Liberties Union challenged the legality of Marsy’s Law, asserting that the 75-word summary of a 500-word amendment did not adequately inform voters about the many changes the passage of Marsy’s Law would entail. The Supreme Court ordered that votes on the referendum not be tabulated by the state until the legal challenge is complete.

Counties reported the numbers anyway, but they will not be certified until the litigation is resolved. Marsy’s Law, if enacted, would drastically change Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system. An amendment to support victims’ rights sounds like a fine idea, but more consideration must be given to the multiple pieces of the amendment and the impacts on the rights of the accused, the newspaper says. The backers of Marsy’s Law called on the League of Women Voters and the ACLU to drop their challenge to the amendment, citing this newly documented widespread support of voters. Jill Greene of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, said the challenge will continue and “we believe we will be victorious.”

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