Proposed Constitutional Amendment: Crime Victim Rights (Marsy’s Law)
Updated: Nov 1, 2019
The following question will be on the ballot this election year (2019) for a yes or no Vote.
***UPDATE***The ballot question about Marsy's Law is the subject of a lawsuit
filed by the League of Women Voters. On 10/10, the League asked the court to block the question because it’s unconstitutional. On 10/30, the court ruled that while the question
will still appear on Tuesday’s ballot, the Acting Secretary will be temporarily enjoined (blocked) from tabulating and certifying the votes. Now the court will spend more time reviewing the
constitutionality of the question.  If the court later decides that it is constitutional, then the Secretary will tabulate and certify the votes. So, if (1) the court later decides yes, it’s constitutional; and (2) the count indicates the public voted yes – only then it passes, and Marsy's Law becomes law. Therefore, voters should still decide and vote their preference on the question.
The MidCounty Democratic Committee has not taken a position on the question, but we want everyone to be an informed voter and be prepared to answer the question.
Here is a link to the document exploring the ballot question: LINK
The question will read as follows:
Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to grant certain rights to crime victims, including to be treated with fairness, respect and dignity; considering their safety in bail proceedings; timely notice and opportunity to take part in public proceedings; reasonable protection from the accused; right to refuse discovery requests made by the accused; restitution and return of property; proceedings free from delay; and to be informed of these rights, so they can enforce them?
Here are some considerations:
A "YES" vote supports adding Section 9.1, involving crime victims’ rights to the Pennsylvania Constitution.
PROS OF ADDING SECTION 9.1
• Increases the legal rights of victims and other persons directly harmed by crime, including the right to be treated with fairness and respect.
• Increases the protection of victims and their families with respect to their safety.
• Ensures victims’ rights to speak at public proceedings regarding the alleged crime.
• Requires that victims be notified of an accused’s release and parole process.
• Passed the Pennsylvania House and Senate with a bipartisan majority.
A "NO" vote opposes adding Section 9.1, involving crime victims’ rights to the Pennsylvania Constitution.
CONS OF ADDING SECTION 9.1
• Allows victims to refuse interviews and withhold evidence, making it harder for accused persons to defend themselves.
• Undermines a judge’s ability to balance the competing rights of accusers and the accused.
• Creates additional costs and obligations on law enforcement and courts.
• Requires the complete passage of many complex issues together, rather than letting voters decide each issue one-by-one.
• Relies on ambiguous and vague language, making it difficult to understand its ultimate effect on PA law