Digital Exclusive: PA Court deems ‘Marsy’s Law’ unconstitutional

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HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — On Thursday the Commonwealth Court found the proposed Crime Victim’s Rights Amendment, also known as Marsy’s Law, unconstitutional.

“Every day that Marsy’s Law is not part of our Constitution, is a day that a victim doesn’t have a voice in the system,” Jennifer Riley said.

Riley is the State Director of Marsy’s Law for Pennsylvania, which is a statewide advocacy organization for victims of crime. It keeps crime victims informed, by making sure they are informed about their attacker’s case, like when they are released from prison.

“What’s interesting here in Pennsylvania is, we have statutory rights for crime victims, so in our laws we have protections for crime victims. The problem is, when you only have statutory rights, if a right is violated, there is no recourse for a victim. What Marsy’s Law does is, it elevates those rights that are currently in statute to our constitution,” Riley said.

Marsy’s Law passed the ballot in November 2019 with 1.7 million Pennsylvanians, that is, 74 percent voting in favor. However, a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union claimed Marsy’s Law made too many changes in one amendment.

“What they’re saying is, the rights under Marsy’s Law, are all different subjects. We say that everything included in the Crime Victim’s Rights Amendment relates to a single thing, and that’s crime victim’s rights,” Riley said.

The court ruling in favor of the ACLU is not stopping the grassroots effort. The next step is for Marsy’s Law advocates to appeal to the Supreme Court.

“We’re going to keep standing up for victims, we’re going to keep it going, we’re going to appeal in short order and we want the victims to know we’re here for them,” Riley said.

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