LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- The Supreme Court of Kentucky has ruled Marsy’s Law will not take effect because it was not submitted correctly and the wording on 2018 Kentucky ballots was too vague.
While Kentucky voters did vote 63% in favor of Marsy’s Law in 2018, the law was on hold until the Supreme Court made a ruling.
The Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers challenged the wording of the 2018 ballot and a lower court had agreed it was too vague before Thursday’s ruling from the Supreme Court.
In a decision released Thursday Chief Justice John Minton, Jr., wrote, “We hold that the issue of whether the proposed amendment was properly submitted to and adopted by the voters is justiciable. We further hold that Sections 256 and 257 of the Kentucky Constitution require the entirety of a proposed constitutional amendment to be published and submitted to the voters irrespective of statutory requirements prescribed by the legislature. The proposed amendment as submitted to the voters in the form of the present ballot question is invalid.”
Marsy’s Law sought to give crime victims in Kentucky more rights during the prosecution process, such as having access to updated information on their case and the right to be included in every court proceeding.
The Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers filed a lawsuit to block Marsy’s Law, saying the amendment could have unintended consequences that could hurt the justice system. That lawsuit eventually made it to the Supreme Court of Kentucky, resulting in Thursday’s decision.
In a written statement Thursday Marsy’s Law for Kentucky said, in part:
“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.”
The Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers also issued a statement Thursday, saying, in part:
“We are pleased with the Kentucky Supreme Court’s unanimous decision confirming that the language of the Kentucky Constitution has meaning and must be complied with when anyone seeks to change our foundational law. Our position has been clear throughout the process. We told the legislature through our testimony even prior to passage, that the question crafted and submitted to voters failed entirely to tell our citizens the fundamental changes to your justice system that would result from this amendment.”