LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — Kentucky’s highest court hands down a victory for a state law that guarantees crime victims’ rights.
The supreme court dismissed the challenges to a law that protects victims of a crime. Marsy’s law allows victims to be notified of all proceedings and have their safety considered when rulings are made.
This could be the final chapter in a year’s long back and forth over whether Marsy’s law should stand.
“We did not want to give them rights over the accused but I think it is appropriate and fair that they have rights that are on the same level as the accused,” said Senator Whitney Westerfield.
The most recent legal challenge to Marsy’s law questioned whether the legislation followed the right process to get on the ballot. It was not the first time the law was challenged.
“One issue that we did not win on was the supreme court dictated that henceforth all constitutional amendments not just Marcy’s law should be put forward with voters with the entire amendment on the ballot,” said Senator Westerfield.
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The law, known as the crime victim’s bill of rights, was passed in 2020 as a state constitutional amendment. But was challenged by criminal defense attorneys. Senator Whitney Westerfield was surprised by the opposition.
“I don’t know what their objection is other than just not wanting to stand up for crime victims and provide what really is a very simple set of procedural rights to make sure victims have a voice in the criminal justice process,” said Westerfield.
Senator Westerfield, who sponsored the bill, pushed back on the argument that it weakens the rights of the accused.
“Remember the accuse is just the accused, they have constitutional rights that are the bedrock foundation of our constitutional order,” said Senator Westerfield.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky was opposed to the court’s decision. In a statement, a spokesperson said Marsy’s law is well-intentioned but deeply misguided and an “empty promise”. The statement also said the current system can, and does, fail victims — but Marsy’s law does not do anything to actually help them.
“There is a way you can provide constitutional protections for victims in a way that co-exists with those rights and in fact in some cases overlaps and compliments the rights of the accused,” said Westerfield.
The ACLU mentioned it is important to note the supreme court did not rule on the merits of Marsy’s law meaning the measure could still be challenged in the future.