Constitutionality of crime victims’ Bill of Rights argued in Pa. Supreme Court

Pennsylvania Politics

(WHTM) — More than two years ago, nearly 75% of Pennsylvania voters supposed a constitutional amendment creating a crime victims’ Bill of Rights. It is called Marsy’s Law, but it’s yet to actually become law. On Tuesday, Sept. 21, it landed in Pennsylvania’s highest court.

Marsy’s Law would notify crime victims of court dates and let them be heard during court proceedings. It was Rep. Sheryl Delozier’s (R – Cumberland) bill.

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“The reason they are in the court is because something was done to them, a  crime happened to them, so they should have a voice as well,” Rep. Delozier, said.

Nearly everyone agrees with that. Event the folks suing to block it from becoming law.

“We’re not opposed to victims’ rights,” Mary Catherine Roper, ACLU attorney, said.

The American Civil Liberties Union argues Marsy’s Law put 15 different amendments on one ballot question, a constitutional no-no in Pennsylvania.

“When you give the voters one proposed amendment that’s got 15 different things in it they don’t get to pick and choose,” Roper said.

But, supporters counter those amendments are linked.

“I think it’s one issue, it’s victims’ rights period,” Rep. Delozier said.

Rights already in law, but a constitutional amendment would elevate them, and Kelly Williams, mother of a victim, says that’s needed because her 11-year-old son was denied the right to address his rapist in court.

“When a victim finds their voice it should never be the system that denies them the right to use it,” Williams said.

The ACLU says to blame the legislature for the blunder.

“We’ve seen this movie before, honestly the legislature has tried before to put too many things into one amendment, the courts have said you can’t do that,” Roper said.

Delozier blames the ACLU for its last-minute lawsuit.

“Standing up for civil liberties is an important battle, but it seems like only certain civil liberties that the ACLU is fighting for because victims deserve civil liberties, and right now they’re not getting them,” Rep. Delozier said.

The Supreme Court is on its own timeline, but lawyers expect it to be several months before there is a ruling.

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