Kentucky Supreme Court rules Marsy's Law amendment too vague

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT/WBKO) -- UPDATE: June 13, 2019 10:51 a.m

State senator Whitney Westerfield released a further statement on his Twitter, saying in part that he hopes "the General Assembly will take up Marsy's Law again and give Kentucky voters another opportunity to voice their support for crime victims in 2020."

UPDATE: June 13, 2019 10:19 a.m.

Marsy's Law for Kentucky released the following statement today regarding the Kentucky Supreme Court's 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."


The Kentucky Supreme Court has affirmed a lower court's decision on a proposed amendment approved by voters in November 2018, saying the question on the ballot was too vague.

The court said the question on the ballot for Marsy's Law, which guarantees rights of crime victims, including the right to be notified of and present for more court proceedings, is now void as a result of the ruling.

Kentucky voters approved the amendment with 63 percent of the vote even though the proposal was in doubt of going into effect.

The Supreme Court found the proposed amendment in violation of the Kentucky Constitution because "it failed to satisfy the requirement that it be published and submitted to the electorate." It was also ruled unconstitutional because there is a requirement for the Secretary of State to publish the full text of the proposed amendment at least 90 days before the vote. The court says the form of the amendment published and submitted was not the full text.

In a tweet, state Senator Whitney Westerfield, the original bill's sponsor and supporter of the amendment, said he was "very disappointed" in the court's decision and that the decision was "effectively striking down" Marsy's Law and "upending the will of the voters."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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