FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18)– In November of 2018 voters in Kentucky said yes to Marsy’s Law, a constitutional amendment that gives crime victims more rights.
But the Supreme Court of Kentucky says that law was not passed correctly.
Back in February, lawyers argued over whether or not the actual law was right or wrong, and on Thursday the court made it clear…it was not.
So why is the process such a big deal?
Marsy’s Law was passed as a constitutional amendment, meaning the voters had to agree to it.
And on Nov. 6, 2018, 66 percent of voters said yes.
However, the actual amendment is 555 words long and on the ballot voters only saw this 38-word question:
“Are you in favor of providing constitutional rights to victims of crime, including the right to be treated fairly, with dignity and respect, and the right to be informed and to have a voice in the judicial process?”
So some of the justices sitting on the Supreme Court wondered if this question was worded fairly. Did the voters really know what they were voting on?
In the court’s ruling, it says lawmakers are required to provide voters with the entire amendment…and the secretary of state needs to publish the full text at least 90 days before voters vote. The court says the full text was not published on the ballot, and that is why the court ruled against Marsy’s Law.
Marsey’s Law for Kentucky later released a statement on the decision:
“Despite the clear will of the Kentucky General Assembly and more than 800,000 voters—an overwhelming majority—the state Supreme Court chose to deny crime victims the equal rights they so obviously deserve. Instead of siding with often-voiceless victims, their tireless advocates and dedicated members of law enforcement across the Commonwealth, the court chose to heed the eleventh-hour desires of a small group of criminal defense lawyers. The court’s unfortunate and disappointing decision—which blatantly ignores the will of the people and establishes new legal precedent regarding how constitutional amendments are presented—has changed the rules mid-game, creating a new requirement for printing the entire amendment on the ballot.
“This is not the end of the line for Marsy’s Law, but merely a fork in the road. For we are now more than ever committed to delivering crime victims the equal rights they are owed. We look forward to working with the General Assembly again to put Marsy’s Law back on the ballot for Kentucky voters in 2020 in a form that will pass legal muster as defined by the court. We are confident they will once again send a clear message of support for crime victims.”